Sunday, 6 July 2008
There are ten basic features of Air Force reorganization, which any dimwitted officer or NCO needs to know.....and regularly practice.
Item one: A successful reorganization doesn't really mean you fixed anything, improved anything, or even saved a penny of funding. Don't waste a single minute worrying about such trivial matters. Its the scope and determination of a reorg that makes it successful. You can waste 2,000 man-hours in preparation and force 200 people to move to various different offices and buildings....to accomplish nothing really special. Just get over it and accept this as part of the mission of the Air Force.
Item two: Reorg planning should be readily displayed on PowerPoint slides and the more slides....the better.
Item three: As you reach the critical final reorg point....where reorg mass occurs....this is the moment you lay claim to your portion of the reorg....along with the thirty other folks who had a hand in the plan. Make damn sure you quickly get this annotated on a medal or citation.....and use this as your jumping stone to the next job or assignment. It is preferable that you leave this base as soon as possible, because most folks will categorize this reorg as a waste within sixty days. Don't feel any shame over the medal being awarded to you over your reorg planning and effort. Bigger men have taken such medals for lesser reorgs.....so just go for the gusto.
Item four: The best reorgs are where you take 300 people....shuffle the deck completely.....and suddenly have room, building, and computer hardware requirements exceeding the 300 original positions. This is a tough part of reorg planning to accomplish, but it shows great genius when you can require more for less.
Item five: Think dense when reorg'ing. You need to consider every single detail....how telephone numbers will change from one office to another....the location of the new copy machine compared to the old one....the new break room.....the movement of key players to lesser positions....and even consider the amount of lawn or grass when compared to the old organization. All of these matter.
Item six: Reorgs are on a tight schedule. Once a reorg is complete....you have barely six months to quietly simmer....waiting until the next green light is given and then the twelve to eighteen month rush to push the next reorg. Use the precious six month period to chill and relax. Go to Ibiza....drink whiskey sours.....and catch up on your golf game. Once you get that green light....go for the gusto....don't waste time.
Item seven: One of the major features of a good reorg....is a completely new name. You should have a list of a dozen potential names which the commander can pick from. Never keep the old name of an organization....it makes it look like no reorg ever took place. Remember....building sign makers are poor people and need the extra business.
Item eight: The question will always come up....is there anything good to come out of a reorg? No....thats as simple as it gets....just accept it and keep reorg'ing.
Item nine: Ceremonies for a reorg? There must be a special day.....a special ribbon cutting....a special coffee and cake......a special military parade....etc. This is one of the great things about frequent reorg's and their comradely that they invoke. We all tend to feel part of the great new failure of an organization.
Item ten: Does it take brains to reorg? Nope....any dimwit can reorg....thats the beauty of the Air Force system. We can take the lowest five graduates of the Air Force Academy and give them five of the worst NCOs in the Air Force....and those ten guys can do just as good a reorg as anyone else. So don't waste effort and time.....just dump as much as you can into reorg'ing and improve the golf game whenever you have a chance.
Remember....its just a twenty-year career....with eight to nine chances to reorg in that twenty year period. Don't waste a single chance. Fly---Fight---Reorg.
This weekend....far....far...farway....in the lands of Aspen, where Coors flows.....there was a festival of sorts......the Aspen Ideas Festival.
You would think I would have attended....having ideas on a daily basis....but I didn't get invited.
Apparently, the guy who did get invited....was Bill "the Hunk" Clinton, former president, law professor, governor and idea-wizard.
Bill wanted to make a pretty big impression....so he addressed world issues from climate change and alternative energy to food security and AIDS. Its an amusing thing.....Bill actually argued that creatively "rethinking" and reorganizing current global problem-solving methods would vastly improve civilization.
I sat there for a long while.....thinking about this concept of "rethinking" and how I'd reshuffle the deck of cards (52 total), to how I'd still end up with 52 in the end. I'm guessing that "rethinking" is some kind of special skill where you learn to unthink or disthink or possibly even dethink.
Most folks were amazed that Bill could keep their attention for a full hour....with one journalist even calling his spill "sobering". Bill had the stage with Ms Jane Wales....a former White House aide of his....who is a VP of philanthropy and society at the Aspen Institute.
Bill's big statement: “It’s a simple little thing that philanthropists should be doing anywhere: Change the business model.”
Then Bill went on suggest the US should “get the show on the road” by aiding farmers and developing native agriculture in ailing nations, rather than simply dumping American foodstuffs on them. He basically said: "It’s crazy for us to keep using the old way of delivering food aid.”
What amazes me on this entire discussion is that you merely stop donating food and force people back to the method that they had prior to the 1960s when these US charity operations began to show up in Africa. People either survived or they died.....it was pretty simple. They had farming programs and lesser regional tension. Today....its easier to just dump food on them and forget the past generation of farming.
The Aspen Institute is a networking organization....where the name of the game is to find people with money, and help them dump it as quickly as possible. Yes, there are fruity-juicy parties where the catering folks deliver $80k of fresh salmon and fresh Ukrainian roses are laid out. Yes, the wine is French and the water is freshly bottled in Bali.
One has to appreciate this idea festival.....we could use one in Bama....but then we'd have five or six good ideas....fix the septic tank problem...build the perfect Cadillac transmission.....make a perfect draft beer.....write a perfect end to "Lost".....and maybe figure a way that real primary votes in Michigan and Florida could count as one vote, and not half votes (the Democratic National Convention wisdom). By Sunday, we'd be finished with our ideas and actually make them work. Having a bunch of ideas is ok.....but sooner or later....you gotta make them work or it was all wasted chatter.
Actually, to be honest...since the e-mails have kept coming in....it may well go past 32.
About every other day....there is another email from somewhere in Africa announcing some cousin or great-uncle or great-aunt having died in Nigeria, Angola, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and at least two or three other countries.
The amazing thing about these relatives of mine....is that I really didn't know them and don't remember them. Plus....for some reason....they are all rich....not that I'd complain about such a behavior, you know.
All of these fellas who announced the various deaths of these relatives were kindly and very proper.....letting me know of the sad passing. I felt relieved that Uncle Richard died in his sleep, that my 4th cousin Winston only fell 300 feet down the waterfall, and that great aunt Millie was only tramped on by three elephants. The reading of the will must occur awful fast there in Africa....almost in all cases....within seven days of the death....they get that email out.
Generally, I'm surprised that they all know my email....since I don't routinely correspond with any relatives except my brother....the Auburn engineer.
The curious thing is that they all want some personal information about me.....and a deposit of "trust".....usually in the neighborhood of $2k to $6k. After that "trust" occurs....the legal papers will be fixed up and I'll get the $1.5 million typically. I'm often very shocked how well my relatives did in Africa.
I've often thought about asking my dad about this line of the family and how they left Bama to tour Africa and get rich.
I suppose I should research this mess more....but then the next day....comes another email announcement of another dead relative. Over five years....I've probably had 300 dead relatives from Africa. The interesting thing....is that I never hear about dead relatives in South America, Canada, or for that matter....New York City. So this afternoon as I sit here....I'm sure another email will arrive....another announcement of some relative bitten by a mad African spider monkey or a Hippo attack along the Gamba River or some relative that rode an innertube too close to the waterfalls.....thus another death announcement.
For those who didn't know it.....we are growing 86 million acres of corn in America this year. Of interest....its almost 7.5 million less than last year. And the experts had been projecting the amount of corn fields at 87.5 million acres.....so we are lessening our growth of the crop while increasing the need for it. Its a business sector situation now.
Adding to this mess is the fact that corn requires a fair amount of fertilizer and ammonia....all related back to natural gas usage by someone....and that cost has gone up dramatically over the past five years. So the keen interest in farmers growing corn....is not exactly high.
While corn prices go up....so do soybeans and wheat. And guess what? The amount of acreage goring soybeans....less than 2007 as well.
Add in the growing cost of diesel on a farm....and you may see less and less acreage in the coming years....with prices for basic foodstuffs increasing. We may all be growing a 1-acre garden in five years....with no choices.
Down in Texas....if you live on a county road....you can still buy fireworks....although if you cross anywhere near the Houston city area....the cops can pull you over and bring into court....potentially facing a fine. The talk on the street is that they can go up to $10k, although most folks think its somewhere in the $500 to $800 range that the local cops are aiming at.
Up in Iowa....they had a accident with some fireworks at a town shooting.....with 37 folks injured. There is likely to be a lawsuit and thats probably the end of fireworks at that town. I'd also judge that most towns in Iowa will probably start thinking about the court troubles when things go wrong, so you might see more towns just plain stop sponsoring fireworks.
Up in New York state, Jones Beach was closed when unexploded fireworks washed up on the beach. There will be a flurry of legal activity over this episode as well.
Around Riverside, Ohio....some guy lost part of his leg when his fireworks inside his SUV accidentally went off. You can expect some folks to start political and court trouble over that episode.
In Bayville, New York....some 6-year old girl had a rocket apparently come down and land in her lap....some burns....apparently ok....but expect legal trouble.
Omaha, Nebraska saw at least eleven folks in the local hospital with fireworks related injuries.
In Van Buren, Arkansas....some woman had a firework of some type....go through her hand. This was at a city show. Apparently, after she'd been taken to the hospital....they stopped the show. Yesterday, the city announced that they will decide later this week when to finish up the show.....which I'm having doubts about the common sense in this but then this is Arkansas. Expect legal or political trouble later on this episode.
Based on the legal direction of America....I'd say that things are going to get tougher over the next decade and it may be a very difficult event for a town to hire a professional to run any fireworks operation. I could even make the judgment that by 2030....you might not be able to find a single state where you could buy fireworks on the side of the road. We will reach a point where folks buy illegally imported Mexican fireworks....just like they buy their illegally imported mary-j-u-wanna currently.
None of this is based on stupidity....well....ok....some episodes like lighting fireworks in a SUV might be a dumb episode. The rest are merely accidents which America tended to just accept until lawsuits became popular. I don't see a reverse trend coming in....it'll continue this same direction and we might be seeing the last real fireworks of our life over the next decade. Its kinda sad....that we pushed ourselves and society to such a point and worry about court cases more than anything else.