Liar! Liar! Fire! Fire!
Maybe Congressman Joe Wilson didn’t inappropriately yell “Liar!” during the President’s speech the other night, but rather “Fire!”, hoping that would clear out the place so everyone could get back to work (or go back to sleep). (I know that’s illegal in a move theater, but perhaps not in Congress, which offers similar entertainment at much more expense.)
While the national media engage in childish name calling, egged on by cable channel hucksters, no one is paying much attention to the fact that the, ah, recovery, is, er, underway. Everything isn’t fixed, but most of it is sure looking up.
I’ve seen the same phenomena in organizations among management. They meet, discuss, hold side meetings, complain to colleagues, exchange memos and email, give lip service to the powerful, then go back and do what they want anyway. And then I’m brought in by an executive who can’t understand why nothing gets done!
Business gets all tied up in its own shorts the same way as Congress. No one provides the leadership to overcome the interest groups, those who feel ignored, those who believe they are perpetual “victims,” and those who are just intractably opposed to anything new (which almost always includes the legal department, and Congress is chock full of lawyers). I remember being called in for strategic help by a huge, national professional trade association. They had a 54-member board, no executive committee, and 55 different opinions! “We’re going to grow smaller,” I directed.
A major Fortune 25 company stunned me with “pre-meetings,” which were intended to pound out difficulties that no one wanted raised during the official meetings, because no one wanted to seem as though they weren’t team players. This eventually worked, but took about eight times longer than an honest, open debate. One person finally said, exhausted from being so polite, “Let’s put the dead rat on the table!” I found that rather elegant, though my retirement plan was not vested there.
Let’s stop worrying about nonsense, such as the President’s message to kids to study hard, or an organization’s demand that it improve customer service. I’m willing to believe there is no ulterior motive, except for studying hard and improving customer service. We’ve all become too paranoid, driven by media which seem to thrive on paranoia—their own, first and foremost.
You know, as children, we used to scream at those we suspected were trying to scam us, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”
A coincidental combination? I think not.
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.