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Consumer Affairs
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Morons unite

I sometimes wonder just how much more dumbing down we need in South Africa. It is not just the skills shortage and the numbers emigrating, it is also the general deterioration in services because people don’t seem to care any more.

It is surprising how often a business acquires its characteristics from the man at the top. If the boss is avuncular, perhaps, courteous, and supports his staff, you are more likely to enjoy good service at the counter than an office where the staff are angry, frustrated or unmotivated because the man at the top is an idiot. Unfortunately, for us all, the latter are far more common than we may have first thought.
An American, fast-approaching his 70s, has an interesting take on this. He calls it the ‘moronisation of American management’. But I guess his observations would stand for any corporate environment. His name is Carl Icahn and he is a sort of industrial predator with piles of money who knows a good deal when he sees one. But what he said about board rooms is partly funny, partly chilling.
Essentially, he said this: The typical chief executive is not too bright, is back-slapping, and a survivor, politically astute and a nice guy.
“To be a chief executive you need to know how not to tread on anyone’s toes on the way up. You eventually become the number two, who has got to be a little worse than the number one to survive.
“When the number two becomes chief executive he in turn promotes someone a little worse than he is as second-in-command.
This is the “survival of the unfittest,” he pronounces. “Eventually we are all going to be run by morons.”
I guess this does not say much for the corporate structure as a business model. Maybe you get bad service because the chief executive is a moron. The only counter-drift to all this is that the consumer can normally vote with his feet and select the services from a more efficient, courteous and altogether better run operation.
But there again, morons would presumably recognise each other. Since their whole career path has been based on preventing achievement, they could club together as it were and promote the monopolistic moronisation of services. By Nigel Benetton

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.10 1st November, 2007
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