Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gomer Pyle Brigade

The latest recruit to the Gomer "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise" Pyle Brigade is one Andrew S. Grove, former CEO of Intel. This Wise Old Man of Business finds that experience matters.

In less than two months, the hopeful enthusiasm that welcomed the Obama administration has given way to growing worry and frustration. I find myself wringing my hands, not over the goals President Obama has set but over the ineffectual ways the administration has pursued them. I have no qualifications to judge how well the Obama team manages the political dynamics, but as a business executive with 40 years' experience, much of it managing change, and a part-time academic dedicated to studying why so few corporations succeed in navigating change, I feel compelled to comment not on the what of the Obama team's efforts but on the how.


We have gone through months of chaos experimenting with ways to introduce stability in our financial system. The goals were to allow the financial institutions to do their jobs and to develop confidence in them. I believe by now, the people are eager for the administration to rein in chaos. But this is not happening.

Until the administration does this, we should not embark on attempting to fix another major part of the economy.


Until the administration does this, we should not embark on attempting to fix another major part of the economy. Our health-care system may well be ripe for a major overhaul, as are our energy and environmental policies. Widespread recognition that all of these reforms are overdue contributed to Barack Obama's victory in November. But if the chaos that resulted from initiating such an overhaul were piled on top of the unresolved status of the financial system, society and government would become exhausted. Instead, the administration must adopt a discipline; not initiating a second wave of chaos before we have a chance to rein in the first.

Andrew Grove is one of those Wise Old Men of Business. Sydney Brillo Duodenum would be interested to know whether Mr. Grove would have hired The Bright Young Thing to oversee any part of the profit aspect of his past profit and loss ventures. Similarly, would Warren Buffet allow The Bright Young Thing to run any of his businesses. How about Sees Candies or the Furniture Mart? Not bloody likely. How quickly would The Bright Young Thing end up on Jim Cramer's CEO Wall of Shame? Why isn't President Obama on there now?!!?! For his entire life, The Bright Young Thing has been involved in things that cost other people money. He has never been responsible for creating money, just taking it. Thus, why would anyone be surprised that he has no clue how to fix a broken P&L?

In any event, the business of America is business. SBD, despite his congenital doom and gloom, has been drinking more Acai berry juice and thus finds unjustified confidence in American business finding a way around the President and the Doomocrats. Our human nature always helps us find the loophole and move through it.