Friday, May 23, 2014

OK, Here's The Difference

I spent my whole working life in the private sector. Sometimes as a peon, sometimes as a boss. Sometimes in manufacturing, sometimes in sales and support. Through all those years, there was one thing that was consistent. There were always problems.

To this day, I remember the first emergency problem meeting I took part in as an engineer. A young assistant sales manager suggested that the first order of business was to find out who was responsible for the problem. Someone else suggested that the first order of business should be to solve the problem and make the customer happy. The problem was that it was an innovative design. It took hours of hard work but we did make the customer happy.

Then you have government. Investigate, investigate, investigate. Use up time. Dilute the public angst. Allot more tax dollars. Realign the deck chairs on the Titanic. Job done. At least by government standards.

In private industry, job reviews are real. Assigned tasks have budgets and time constraints. A successful employee meets budget and brings the job in on time. The next level up on the management tree is reviewed and judged by the rate of success of that person's department. Do well, you move up. Do poorly, you move out. Excuses don't count for much. Responsibility does.

In government there is no bottom line. The profit motive does not exist. Private industry must be lean and mean because the profit they make keeps the business healthy and growing. It pays for research and development so the company is assured a future. Successful people are raised up in management because they are successful.

In government they just raise taxes. Management becomes a clique. It is every managers job to make every other manager look good. Advancement is more often by connection than talent. Anyone taking blame and getting fired is a rarity.

The VA must be moved into the private sector style of management immediately. Replace Shinseki with a retired CEO from a successful large corporation. Give him carte' blanche to get the job done. That includes hiring and firing. Investigate if you must but cure the problem before others die in the VA's tender ministrations. That is the speech Obama should have given. It is also the speech he is incapable of giving.

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