02 October 2007

Man in the Mirror

About ten years ago I was working for a company whose management was tired of always achieving mediocre results.

They looked around and saw unhappy, inefficient employees that just went through the motions.

Something was wrong with these people. “We give them a great place to work, health benefits, and the gift of our insight and guidance and still they are not successful” They surmised.

A consultant was hired.

He had meetings and presentations. He consulted.

His plan was for management to ask for the employee’s take on what the problems were and suggestions on they could be fixed.

The employees smirked and whined and complained some even went the extra mile and offered up some solutions. But they knew that the only solution was for management to manage and make the right decisions.

The consultant said, in a now infamous meeting, that management’s role was to ask the employees to help so that they would feel they were participating in the process and guide them into giving the right answers-what management wanted them to do. This way, the employees would have some illusion of ownership in the process for after all, they were not in the decision making class.

At the meeting I attended, I was presented with this grand scheme of dishonest manipulation. Since I had been assured by the consultant that all conversations were confidential, I told him just that- the new strategic plan is manipulative and dishonest.

Right after my meeting, the consultant went to the COO and complained that Gusano wasn’t a team player. When the COO told me about his conversation with the consultant, I explained to him that the strategic plan that the consultant was peddling was called communism and that I knew firsthand it didn’t work. That got a good laugh. I also told him that my family didn’t risk their lives to get me out of Castro’s Cuba first through AK-47 carrying thugs, then through shark infested waters (actually we came on a plane-but the shark infested waters thing has a more dramatic effect) so I could tow the party line. That got a bewildered and puzzled look.

Eventually, the consultant caused so much chaos and discord that the company severed its relationship with him and he went on, I’m sure to ruin other companies.

After reading all these articles on how Raul Castro is now urging Cubans to vent with “bravery and sincerity” about Cuba’s problems, I wonder if they hired Bob, the consultant. What am I thinking ! Bob was following their playbook.

Which reminds me of another “consultant.” This one was a nun. She asked us kids in CCD what was wrong with the world and who could fix it. All the kids raised their hands and after about an hour of taking suggestions and discussions, she handed us a little plastic mirror.

Raul Castro should hire Sister Marsha. She'll show him what's wrong.

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