Archive for May, 2012

The Peter Principle for the 21st Century

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

To begin with, I’ve discovered there’s a generation coming up that has never heard of the Peter Principle. It was something devised by a man named Lawrence Peter back in the 80s. He described a dysfunction in the running of major corporations. His model showed that when people were hired by corporations, they were put into entry-level positions. If they proved themselves capable in that job, they got promoted to a higher, more complex job. This practice would go on until such time as the employee was promoted to a job that was past his/her capabilities. They would not be demoted back down to the level where they were competent, but would be left in the job where they could not function. This process would repeat itself until such time as the corporation was entirely filled with people who were operating at their level of incompetence.

This was a bad enough mess, but now in the 21st century, corporations have devised a new spin on the Principle. They’ve come up with a brand new dysfunction called outsourcing. All of the people at the top of the organization, who were all operating at their level of incompetence, decided to ship overseas all of the manufacturing functions of the company, the lower levels where employees were still operating at their level of competence.  They figured out how to skim the cream off the bottom.

I can’t wait to see what new dysfunctions corporations can come up with.

Wait a minute! Don’t they do something like buying up companies so they can close them up and make money?

Somebody’s got to explain that one to me.

Things that Don’t Work – 1

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The title of this piece seems to be an all-embracing one. You can point out all sorts of things in our society that don’t work, most of them centered around our government. But I’m talking about a specific group of things that don’t function. They’re the things we whole-heartedly believe work, but under the lens of close scrutiny, we discover they really don’t work.

At all.

The one I’m concerned with today is something whose very title turns out to be an oxymoronic mis-direction play. I’m talking about stainless steel.

Boy, is that ever great stuff! You can put it in your kitchen and cover it with tomato sauce, boil things in it, subject it to the extremes of temperature, and it will stay shiny and it absolutely won’t…

Whoops! Wait a minute. I have a late-breaking message coming in.

We recently bought a brand-new set of stainless steel pans. I figured our kitchen troubles were over. We could plunge right on, making whatever dishes we wanted to, and not worry about taking any special precautions with our pots and pans. After all we had stainless steel.

Needless to say I had a rude awakening. It turns out one has to be quite careful of staining stainless steel. There’s a whole legion of things that stain it: scorching, oil, bleach, coffee, tea, etc.

So I give you nominee number one of the Things that Don’t Work: stainless steel.

I’ll just have to keep all those things that cause stains safely stashed on my Formica counter.