Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Serve The People

Eric of Classical Values and I have been having an e-mail discussion of management styles provoked in part by his article on Chairman Mao: Proudly emulating the bold and imaginative attitude of Chairman Mao!

My attitude was to always treat those below me with the same attitude I treated those above me. Respect. Because good results depend on every one on the team. Or as an American philosopher put it:

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John W. Gardner, Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1962

Chairman Mao was not the only one to see that a fundamental respect for others was necessary to make an organization work. Sadly the Chairman got carried away with the privileges of power and bad philosophy. Leading him to kill at least 50 million Chinese. The movie The Last Emperor is an excellent look at the Empire of Mao.

Which leads us to another dying empire. The American auto industry. Or as I currently prefer: Government Motors and Crisis Motors.

Everyone knew Detroit's reputation for insular, slow-moving cultures. Even by that low standard, I was shocked by the stunningly poor management that we found, particularly at GM, where we encountered, among other things, perhaps the weakest finance operation any of us had ever seen in a major company.
But that is only the money. What about their attitude towards the people producing the cars?
The cultural deficiencies were equally stunning. At GM's Renaissance Center headquarters, the top brass were sequestered on the uppermost floor, behind locked and guarded glass doors. Executives housed on that floor had elevator cards that allowed them to descend to their private garage without stopping at any of the intervening floors (no mixing with the drones).
And that is the essence of the problem. They never practiced management by walking around. Finding out what was actually going on and fixing things. They never liked the peasants. Reminding me of the old joke: Courtier to the King: "The peasants are revolting." King to the Courtier: "Yes they are." There is an identity there. As in congruency.

As Mao once knew. If you don't serve the people you can not succeed.

And Michelle Obama? All she wanted was a few servings of leafy greens.
Let's say you're preparing dinner and you realize with dismay that you don't have any certified organic Tuscan kale. What to do?

Here's how Michelle Obama handled this very predicament Thursday afternoon:

The Secret Service and the D.C. police brought in three dozen vehicles and shut down H Street, Vermont Avenue, two lanes of I Street and an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro station. They swept the area, in front of the Department of Veterans Affairs, with bomb-sniffing dogs and installed magnetometers in the middle of the street, put up barricades to keep pedestrians out, and took positions with binoculars atop trucks. Though the produce stand was only a block or so from the White House, the first lady hopped into her armored limousine and pulled into the market amid the wail of sirens.
Andrew Monaghan thinks this shows more than a minor disconnect from the "little people".
I ask my readers to consider one thing: What mindset must one be in to block traffic during rush hour (in Washington DC of all places!) in an attempt to satiate your craving for certified organic Tuscan Kale?

Here's the answer: One must be in the state of mind where your whimsical cravings supersede the desires of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of people to get home to see their families after a hard day of work.

This is giving Michelle Obama too much credit. The statement above presupposes that Michelle Obama actually has the desires of these people on her radar. She does not. Anyone who stops traffic in rush hour to obtain an obscure lettuce isn't thinking of anything other than impressing the "small people" with her nuanced palate.
Which brings me back to the political side of the current bunch of liars we have in office. They have more than the usual amount of disrespect for the people they serve (yeah that Chairman Mao again). It will not end well.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


RavingDave said...

It has long been my theory that Democrat Presidents are utterly horrible and make decisions that result in Catastrophe's for this country.

Up till now, I had no major criticism of Harry Truman. I have recently learned that Chiang Kai Shek had requested Troop Carrying aircraft from the United States so that he could attack Mao Tse Tung during his "Long March."

Truman Denied his request. Had he granted it instead, We may have never had a Communist China, Korea, Vietname, etc. and 70 million Chinese people would not have died.

What a horribly bad mistake that Democrat President made.

Neil said...

To Serve America!

Who knew it was a cookbook?