Wednesday, 25 March 2009

They just don't get it

Some companies have shown amazing insensitivity in recent days. What was AIG thinking when it decided to go ahead with the bonuses ? How could they not foresee the furore that this would cause ? How could the Chairmen of GM, Ford and Chysler even consider coming to Washington in their private jets to press for a bailout ? And to compound the disaster, when one of the Congressional leaders asked if any one of them would consider going back in a commercial airline (first class), not one offered to do so.

These are tall business leaders. They make complex decisions everyday and are extremely intelligent and capable. Despite all this, how could they be so insensitive ? Obama summed it up beautifully. He said "they just don't get it "!

I believe senior business leaders have become divorced from reality. They move in a rarefied world, that bears little resemblance with the real world and have become cocooned in it. They meet only other company chairmen. They live behind fortified walls. They fly to Davos. The ordinary mundane things of life are taken care of for them. In that world, flying in a private jet is the normal thing to do. No wonder that even after the story broke, the auto companies still couldn't see what they had done wrong.

This is extremely dangerous for the companies, as well as for the leaders personally. It actually makes them lesser human beings - and that's why "they don't get it". Once in a while, they should inhabit the real world, just for the experience. They should make an occasional trip, coach class. They should catch a bus to somewhere. They should walk around the park and go to a McDonalds with their kid. They should volunteer for a day and work as an orderly in the hospital. They should try manning the checkout counter of a supermarket. They should teach in a primary school . All just for a day; occasionally.

Or, should they really feel upto it, spend a day in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In fact not just business leaders. Any human being will have a different perspective on life after a day in Congo.

Just once in a while. Doesn't even have to be often. Even the most overworked business leader can spare a day in a quarter (after all they they aren't all that busy as is made out, as I posted before). I suggest it would be enormously uplifting for their soul. They would become actually better human beings. With their intellect and capability, the "experience of the real world", would make them even more effective.

Perhaps, they would then, "get it".


Athivas said...

I think this is one issue with the ruling class, by itself-- be it politics or business.99% do not want to be a part of the 'normal' citizens.

When I first read the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling, I've wondered why he said that line- "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,..", not anymore!!

PS: Each one of your post is so full of info and value, that I simply cannot resist the temptation to read. Thank you!!

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