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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Stupidity exists at all levels

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

One of the reasons I like the cartoon Dilbert is because Scott Adams, the creator takes great pains to show up the absurdity of the corporate world. Anyone who has ever worked inside of a corporate type of organization can easily identify with the point Dilbert is trying to make. Stupidly exists at all levels of the spectrum. There is no exception.

I recall a situation some years ago where I was contracted to eliminate theft for a chain of retail stores. I preferred to do the audits on an ad-hoc basis, whenever and wherever we felt they were needed the most. The client on the other hand, wanted a schedule showing when and where we were going to show up. It didnít take us too long to discover that a large number of the store managers were related to each other in some form or another and as such would call ahead to warn the store that we were coming. Then they would bring in stock from other stores to cover the losses which would show the auditors that everything was shipshape and no losses had occurred. Needless to say, we didnít win any friends when we figured this out and changed our audit schedule without advance notice. We also didnít keep the account. It made me wonder why they had hired us in the first place. Must have been window dressing.

In another situation, we were looking into a large manufacturing plant where several of the company supervisors were buying so calledí secondsí and selling them out of shops they had set up in their home towns. Obviously the Ďsecondsí were not inferior goods at all, but prime materials bought and sold at a discount against the corporate price. For this assignment, I agreed to send two undercover agents into the plant to document these thefts. After I had placed the agents inside of the plant, the president wanted to know who they were. I refused to tell him the names and he then told me he needed to know what day they had been hired. I gave him an incorrect day of the week. He thought he had it figured out and fired the only two people hired on the date I submitted. Of course these were the wrong people. We ended up completing the investigation and found the supervisors in cahoots with the president. All ended up getting fired and filed on with the authorities.

So, where does this lead me? Well, last week I was reading about the drug screening for the NFL. The article described how the screeners who had been hired to perform random drug screens for the NFL players have to give their testing schedule in advance so they can get parking permits and be admitted to the stadiums to perform the tests. This seems to me a little like the first situation I described and renders the element of surprise to be rather ineffective.

I mean, if you tell a team that the drug folks are going to be here on Friday, doesnít it make sense that any player taking drugs might be inclined to stop so they wonít get caught? How dumb is this to figure out?

On the other hand, maybe the owners really want to play a little game and give the appearance of testing but really donít want the testing. I hardly think you will find anyone failing a drug screen when they have a week or ten days notice in advance, do you?

Of course if you have the advance notice and you still fail, then you must be super stupid.

Corporate responsibility starts with putting your money where your mouth is. Itís doing the right thing to insure that you establish and maintain the trust of the people you are serving. In professional sports that means the fans who pay big bucks to go see some guy play the game.

There is no excuse for cutting corners and establishing a wink-wink nudge-nudge type of drug program. You either have one or you donít. Itís that simple.

Kids of all ages look up to the people in the professional sports industry as heroes. That image needs to be polished and maintained to eliminate the tarnish that has collected upon it over the past several years. Do it right or donít do it at all. We donít think itís funny.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

November 7, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com


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