Monday, August 3, 2009

A Corporate-style Plan

Since we got the new puppy, I've found it difficult to get work done on the paneling project. Every day is something new: puppy-this and puppy-that. I bought some extra pine boards (enough now to cover the ceiling), but they are sitting in the garage, and the paneling project is going nowhere.

Aware of my shortcomings and (to be honest) still pissed about the new puppy, Willow announced this morning that we will be adopting a more formal, total quality approach to our projects, no doubt a result of her recent seminars in Sarasota. She had that look, something I remember from my previous life as a corporate lackey, that look that says we regret to inform you that some of you will be fired just before Christmas, cold and yet full of empathy and regret, a look that every good corporate manager must master.

It didn't have to get like this. Faced with a complicated problem, a manager inevitably turns to the corporate version of automatic pilot--to implement quality improvement plans, defer to committees, create spreadsheets and graphs, focus on the bottom line, cross-train, diversify, synergize.

Like with the health care problem. Everyone knows that health care is broken. Obama promised to overhaul the system and make it a top priority. You might think that most people would be in favor of a change. The problem is this: health care been broken for a long time. Years ago it was sent into corporate auto-pilot, a swirling process that evolves with a simple rule in this case: increase the profits of those corporations that make money when people are sick. Naturally, such a process provides money for people who can protect the process while it is on auto-pilot. Currently you can see these protectors on TV saying outrageous things in order to derail the new initiatives. Saying that old people will lose their doctors and die under the new plan. Using the language of fear. Speaking with a corporate mouth.

So Willow's plan is this: I will be teaching the puppy how to put up the paneling. The puppy is smaller and eats less than I do--I weigh more than a litter of puppies--so eventually it will be cheaper for the puppies to do all the work (In Willow's plan, eventually there will be many puppies.) When the puppies begin to eat too much, we will trade them in younger puppies. And, Willow added without a smile, Cheryl and I will be eating puppy poop, but probably only for the next 5 or 6 years. Sure it sounded crazy at first, but it's hard to argue with the bottom line.

Follow-up: I gave Willow some treats at lunch and we went for a walk. Time to reach out and compromise...


  1. Total quality???? But what is Quality?

  2. Read here, but only if your BS quotient for the day is not yet met. I actually went to meetings on this stuff. Horrible...