Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sleeping Pilots

The news about the Northwest Airline overshooting their destination by something like 90 minutes hit the front page news all over the world. As usual, it got me thinking (Crap, that bad habit again) about the whole issue of doing well your whole life and then screwing up once. I'm not at all sure that our society handles this with complete logic, compassion, individualism or common sense at all.

Now I completely understand all the standard arguments about their screw up possibly putting hundreds of people's lives on the line because of their line of work. What if their apparent lack of situational awareness (cool words I learned from my pilot daughter) buried the plane in the dirt destroying those poor unsuspecting people's lives and even potentially more on the ground? The other argument running around in the aviation world is that these guys were probably screw-ups before and only just now got caught with their preverbal pants down on this one flight. I'm certainly not sure how we would know that though, now would we?

Ya know? It struck me that these two pilots, whom I know nothing at all about, have ( I heard) thousands of hours of perfect service. Hours and years apparently doing everything by the book and safely doing their jobs. It would seem to me these facts would have to be taken into consideration when trying to judge this one infraction, no matter how grave it is. After thousands of hours of professional, safe flying should their licenses, career and livelihood be taken from them over this one thing?

I think this situation unfortunately happens a lot of times in normal life also. Where good, hardworking, honest folks just plain screw up once in a blue moon after a lifetime of being "perfect". Where people who would normally not do anything wrong or crazy at all go off the deep end for some crazy once in a lifetime reason that cannot be understood. I wonder how many crimes of passion or rage are completely out of character for the people involved. Things they would never think of doing when their lives are on track and normal.

I know this can't be compared with the airline pilots dilemma but I do know I've had weird moments when I thought I was being treated unfairly taking into account my normal reputation. When for instance the power company sends me a "shut off" notice because I forgot or mislaid my bill and it was late. When that happens, I always get super angry with them for not checking my record to see I've paid perfectly on time for years on end with no problems whatsoever. It lets me know I'm just a damn number to them after all these years and they could care less of my record of perfection.

Okay, I'm certainly not the FAA or any other aviation department who has to make these decisions about these two pilot's licenses, lives and career but I sure would hope their entire flying record would be at least as important as this one incident. Personally, I would think when both facts are put on a balance scale, their total service would far outweigh this one screw-up.

What say you?

Right at the bottom of this posting is a "Comments" link. Click on it, follow the instructions and leave a comment about this post. You can use your name or make up one, by clicking in the circle beside "Name/URL". Or just leave your comment anonymously by clicking on the circle beside "Anonymous".

I will receive an e-mail, OK it and then it will appear for others to view after they click on the comments link.

Come on.......DO IT!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bottom up leadership?

Listening to the common workers around my little world through the years always had me thinking (bad habit of mine). I listen to them complaining about idiotic policies, rules, proclamations, changes and procedures constantly coming down the pike from who in the hell knows where at their jobs. Somewhere toward or at the top of the totem pole of whatever big company or government agency they work for. Usually they come from some guy/gal in a fancy suit who got some kind of degree from a collage proclaiming they are way smarter than those little guys out in the field actually doing the work on the ground, or in the air for you pilots. Everything they learned came out of some usually very expensive books having almost nothing to do with the reality of doing things logically or right.

Interestingly, most if not all small businesses don't have these kinds of problems because the decision making processes are still being handled by the owner and he has to run a tight, efficient ship or he doesn't make any money to keep going. He has no desire or the money to hand out vital, important decisions for his company to some collage graduate to analyze.

No, most of these crazy things happen in the big business or even bigger government arenas. These become so large that they completely loose track of the real purpose and mission they started out to do. They lose sight of the fact that the actual worker, laborer and employee doing the work day in and day out is really the only ones who see what's really happening. They are the only ones who know if the work is being done in a logical, reliable, efficient, product producing way. They are the ones who see the waste, inefficiency and just plain stupidity being handed down from up above.

What brought all this to a head was a customer just the other day who works for PG&E. He works in their building and maintenance department. He was complaining up a storm about how these stupid directives come down the pike and eventually get to him. These papers are telling him to do things which he plainly knows are just plain stupid and wasteful in the extreme. He told me of a case where PG&E was setting up a job to put parking and directional stripping on the pavement around one of the buildings he is responsible for. So of course they put out bids to all the giant paving/stripping contractors in the whole state of California. Then bids for 5 or 6 other contractors for various other issues involved with this project. He said this relatively simple little job is going to cost the company some astronomically high amount of money. He told his boss to give him the budget set up for this one job and if he couldn't do it for less than one quarter of the money, they could fire him. He was so disgusted with their insanity that he meant it but alas, they just mumbled some crap and walked off.

Now in PG&E's case, guess where their headquarters is? Guess where the suits sit making these kinds of insane, wasteful decisions? In downtown San Francisco. Yup, these idiot suits have never even seen the job site. They have no need to actually visit the work site in person to know what the best, most cost effective, logical way to get the job done.

What kind of world have we inherited where this kind of foolishness can happen. Shouldn't the first and foremost people big business and government look to for answers be those very peons at the very bottom of the hill. The ones with the shovel, hammer, tape measure, tool kit or sales laptop in hand. The ones who are sweating, trying their damnedest to do the best job they can with the tools, instructions, skill and information they have available. They are the ones to ask, Mr/Mrs stupid CEO, Manager, Stock Holder for the answers you need.

One more thing and I'll try and climb down from my self inflicted soap box for today. These lowly workers, if asked their valuable opinion, should be paid a hell of a bonus (yea, cold hard cash), if and when their ideas are put in place.

So......wherever you work. Do you see waste, ineffective, idiotic policies happening and if asked could probably do it way better with better results, profits and a much better end product?

Then read the next bit and add your bitch to this blog....

Right at the bottom of this posting is a "Comments" link. Click on it, follow the instructions and leave a comment about this post. You can use your name or make up one, by clicking in the circle beside "Name/URL". Or just leave your comment anonymously by clicking on the circle beside "Anonymous".

I will receive an e-mail, OK it and then it will appear for others to view after they click on the comments link.

Come on.......DO IT!