Login
Subscribe
More About This Website

This is my effort to share my thoughts with readers about concerns facing our country today.  I believe there is a good chance my grandchildren may be the first generation in the history of this great country not to have a better standard of living than their parents. If so, our generation is to blame. The clock is running out for damage control. .

<a href="http://technorati.com/claim/sdept8b5a6"rel="me">TechnoratiProfile</a> 

Navigation
Search
Powered by Squarespace
blog index
« Congress-Let the Failures Happen | Main | The Flaw with the Health Care Plan »
Saturday
Jan172009

America Has Lost Focus

I worked 34 years for the same corporation. We had a CEO who grew the corporation from a Mid-West based refiner marketer to an international production, refining, chemical and marketing company. He selected his successor more than ten years before he retired. The successor was anointed. He was told he would be the CEO when the current CEO retired. He was moved through a series of jobs to broaden his experience. When the CEO retired, he decided the hand picked successor was not ready. He was told he needed a little more seasoning so an interim CEO was put in for a couple of years. 

It was succession planning at it's best. One problem, the anointed one never made a goal. He moved through the jobs and never got the job done he was on, and was only looking to the next one, bigger and better. When he finally became CEO, this continued. 

The corporation, which had been very focused on goals and meeting goals, became confused. The human resources department began to really run the organization. Initiatives like diversity, safety, training, and leadership style became top priority. These were all important issues, but when they began to take most of the time of the line managers, financial results suffered. For once, the anointed one had no new job to train for and didn't have to think about picking out new office furniture. He had to produce results and be accountable. It was the leader of the year program. Create a Jack Welch leadership school and bring in the top people for a week a year. Jump on some other guru's bandwagon and put that in the organization. 

But, year after year fail to make the big goals. Can't make the big goals when you spend all the time on the smaller ones. Get really good at making excuses. Start to hire from the outside. Bring in Mckinsey and the consultants to do your work. Finally spend $6 billion in shareholder equity chasing dreams and face the reality that you have just about run out your string. When all else fails, sell the company. It beats a public hanging by the board of directors.  Walk away with a pile of money but put the screws to the good employees who tried to do the job while you made it impossible. All the while, demonstrate the one talent you had that got you picked to begin with, style, no substance.

So that $40 billion dollar corporation is gone. Most of the employees are gone too. The shareholders are better off than they might have been if the CEO had stayed and blew the rest of their equity. The prior CEO told this man that he was the worst business decision he ever made. Too late. Fifteen years too late. 

It seems to me that our country is doing the same thing. I'm not addressing president-elect Obama, he may change this trend. But, the outgoing president and the congress has managed to focus time and resources on the small issues and let the big ones go to seed. 

The big mortgage scam that spread $2 trillion in bad loans all over the world seems like something that should have been watched and not fostered as congress did. We did protect our country and credit should be given for that, big credit. Our energy situation is worse than ever. We are in two wars that no one thinks we should be involved in fighting. One, Afghanistan, destroyed the former Soviet Union.

We have let our manufacturing businesses go to seed. We have let our infrastructure go to seed. Congress spent all of early 2008 dealing with minute issues. Getting reelected is more important than doing the job your were elected to do. 

We never thought a $40 billion corporation that always paid dividends could go away. But, it did. You don't think the richest country in the world can go away, but it can. Remember the USSR?

There are a lot of parallels between Obama and this CEO. Neither ever had to get results or run anything for any period of time Both had the right credentials. Both could talk the talk. Both espouse change. Both surrounded themselves with people much like them. 

If Obama's change doesn't include focus, and closing Gitmo is not focus, we will be in big, big trouble. There are not enough assets left to allow the incoming president to waste shareholder equity and not get results. We will test the limits of our capacity to make mistakes and that capacity is getting smaller and smaller.

Elitists, mainstream media, and left wing congress have a long list of side issues they want the president to address. Gay marriage, card check, global warming, being nicer to terrorists, elimination of free trade, and lot's more. These Bush haters want quick action. They all think Bush and the rest of the country that doesn't think like they do are stupid. They look down on us. 

The first person I respect for being smart  from mainstream media,  the elitist population, and radical left wing liberalism is yet to come. I believe some of the most IQ challenged people in America come from these groups. And some of the smartest outside that group have precious little time for any of them because these are the people who are running businesses, fighting fires,  growing crops, or building something. They are players, not spectators, not Monday morning quarterbacks. Not teleprompter readers with good hair.

Most important they know about focus. If they didn't they couldn't achieve the success they have while raising families and living busy lives. We must carry this focus to Washington and force it down the throats of the fools who chase rainbows. After all, we can't sell the country to avoid getting fired like the CEO in my former corporation did. 

Reader Comments (2)

Bill,
One of your best articles so far. I sold my little business to folks that act very much like to describe; and I have watched them spin down the bowl for 12 years.
Let's hope our country reverses this same trend quickly or we can forget about concern for our grandkids, the problems we face still have time to bite us badly.
Thanks for keeping the light focused on our many issues and investing the time to bring them to the forefront.
Fairways and greens!!!!

January 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Thanks, Larry. It was fairways and greens Friday. A rare 82.

January 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Robertson

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>