Monday, October 20, 2008

The Nature Of Human Nature

I think it's human nature to prefer doing more of what we're good at, and less of what we're not.  Doing what you're already good at feels, well, good.  It's rewarding and fun.  

Take me for example.  I hate swimming drills.  It's not that I don't need 'em; trust me, I do.  My form and balance, stroke efficiency, breathing and body position are just a few of the things crying out for improvement.  But meter by meter, length by length, drills just seem to relentlessly point out my flaws.   Positive progress, if any, is slow and imperceptible.  Who likes that?  It's like dating somebody who never stops criticizing.  Been there, done that.

And now we have GM possibly merging with Chrysler (how 'bout THAT for my train of thought leaping the tracks?)  Highly-paid executives are skilled at (and handsomely rewarded for) believing that mergers are THE ANSWER to what's bugging 'em, though they blithely use phrases like "synergies" and "accretive value" and "strategic opportunities" to express those answers.  And, of course it's WAY fun thinking big goose-bumpy thoughts and dreaming grand dreams while jetting from one big important meeting to another, all very hush-hush and gloriously self-important.

Yep, frenetic deal-making is "execu-speak" for FUN, and who in their right mind gives up FUN to sink down in the trenches and RUN something?  My God, talk about slow, imperceptible progress!  Such a fool might actually have to design and manufacture a car people want to buy!  And to do THAT s/he'd be forced to improve quality and fix processes and deal with those pesky labor unions and legacy health costs and all that "unfair" (read: better than us) foreign competition. 

Worse yet, s/he'd be forced to un-learn one vocabulary (stock options, tee times, expense accounts) in favor of suspicious, weird new terms like employee engagement, LEAN, CAP and Six Sigma.  EWWWWW!  Where's the fun in all that "two steps forward, one step back" slog?  Better to be avoided at all costs while waiting for the Gulfstream to show up.

If merging two very troubled companies is the answer, I'm wondering what the hell the question is, besides, maybe, how to avoid real work for as long as possible. Now excuse me while I practice what I preach.  Time to stop avoiding real work and start swimming like I mean it, damn it.

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