Executive Summary: Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I don’t really want to talk about it. I’m not all that smart a guy but I can’t get far enough down into this muck and mire without having my head implode.
Let’s talk instead about “change agents.” I was hired once by a company because they wanted someone to show them how high tech semiconductor companies went about developing leading edge products. In the interview, they talked a lot about how they needed a “change agent” to make them more nimble in their product development.
The first test was when I was responsible to “beta test” a new product. The key was selecting customers who could give really good feedback on whether we’d hit all the marketing requirements with the kind of quality that the customer expected. This requires a lot of work in coordinating with the sales force and developing relationships with customers so that expectations are set appropriately. Also, there has to be an iteration to implement beta feedback before the product is released to the general customer base.
I made a presentation to management describing this beta test process that I’d used in numerous high tech companies. The VP of Engineering simply said “that’s not what we do. We’ve tested the product well enough through our years of experience that we know customers will like it and ‘beta’ just means that we give the initial production run to customers who give us money first.”
I tried a couple more times to act as the “change agent” they’d supposedly hired me to be and gave up. Eventually they laid me off.
This is in miniature what Donald Trump is going through. The Federal Government Deep State is probably ten times more sinister than any company’s Deep State. Companies at least give lip service to “change” but the reality is that the people who go to work nine to five do not want change and will fight it with way more energy than they put into their real job.
After the company had laid me off, they hired me back to run a project that was doomed to failure. It was a toughie — replace the name of the product from Foo to Bar on a limited production run. Business types among us will recognize this as a private labeling. No biggie. Get new boxes printed, change the documentation, get that printed, get new product labels printed and ship the stuff out the door.
The resistance I encountered was ferocious because the company “just didn’t do that.” I’ll always remember a member of the production team leaping to his feet and yelling “what idiot thought we could get this done in two months!”
To give you one small example, the documentation person was a contractor. Let me say again — a contractor; she was not what we like to call an employee! She refused to produce the documents because it didn’t meet the documentation process control requirements. What wrote the documentation control requirements? SHE DID!
The products shipped in one month simply because I solved one problem after another and browbeat one person after another. The only reason I succeeded was that I was no longer an employee and didn’t give a whit what these idiots thought of me.
Take all of this and multiply it by someone who’s been in the government since 1986. Just like a dozen or so folks tried to prevent me from completing the project was I being paid to complete, Ambassador Yovanovitch and no doubt hundreds if not thousands of government employees are at work trying to prevent President Trump from doing what he wants to do.
Here’s the thing. The dozen of so folks working against me were doing it for what they believed was “the good of the company” even if management had ordered it done. When I succeeded, no one came to me and said “well, I guess what management wanted done worked out to be OK.” In fact, they told me that I was just lucky and it could have been a disaster.
If North Korea, the Ukraine, and China all turn out well, rest assured the Deep State will say “well, he was just lucky.” They will not recognize how ineffectual they’ve been all these decades — bet on it!