Insane corporate efficiency – part 2

One of my readers bought up a point that has probably been used to justify many instances of corporate insanity:

Richard M Rowan says:

Corporate America is quite "sane" by any definition. Executives behave exactly as their owners want them to, or they are out. Nothing will change until investor expectations change.

I think this falls under the unsuccessful defense, "We were only following orders!" That didn’t work in Nazi Germany in 1945 and it doesn’t work now.

Owners (investors) want and demand financial results. That is their right and is a sane expectation. Executives who wish to retain their jobs strive to produce those desired results by creating efficient corporate structures and procedures. They generally rely on time-tested organizational structures, policies and procedures to carry out the day-to-day activitires which make a modern corporation successful. There is nothing insane in all of this.

It is the reliance on mechanistic models of perfection that create the corporate insanity I have experienced. Substitution of rigid policy for judgment is the genus of spreading insanity in some corporations. The glorious vision of pre-scripted relationships with customers, employees, and suppliers must spring from the ridiculous notion that machines are error-free.

Machines are only good for doing things that some human has already figured out how to do. All of the Artificial Intelligence claptrap notwithstanding, it takes an empowered, trained, and competent human being to assess a new situation and have any hope of coming to a rational conclusion about it. Life is all about judging and handling new situations.

On the other hand, many assembly operations and cooking fries at McDonald’s do not require judgment, because the activity is mindlessly repetitive. If human beings are involved, it is because they are cheaper than the robot which would otherwise do that job.

As soon as we communicate with humanity, we need to ensure that there are competent human beings on both ends of the communication line.

Rote procedures do not handle real-life situations very well. Robotic behavior by poorly trained or severely coerced employees does not contribute much to a customer’s or a supplier’s experience. In most cases, robotic responses are infuriating and cause the customer or supplier to avoid doing further business if at all possible.

There are some answers to this apparent dilemma, but it will have to wait for another post. Meanwhile, lets hear your thoughts about this. Your comments have been most interesting.

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