Monday, October 16, 2017

What Estates Can Learn From Trump's Badly Managed Nuclear War

And, sadly, they often have the principals themselves to back them up and congratulate them on this absurd management style...

OK, I admit this may be a stretch, but it's the only epiphany I've had this past week - and so Citizen readership will just have to bear with me.  

And true, I admit, about the worst thing that can happen on an estate under the duress of staff and project mismanagement is the bathroom remodel goes a week over schedule, or the 12-grain organic toast gets a little bit overdone. 

But hang in there now and let's see how the current shenanigans of amateur hour is playing out like a cliffhanger reality show ("You'll find out later" seems to be Trump's response to any questions asked to him by the press about our impending launch of nuclear missiles - as if we need to first take a commercial break before he pushes the red button) on the world stage and threatening to turn into vapor both yourself and the city around you at any moment now - can be an example of how not to manage your estate.

Enter now the succinct, structured, and brilliant writing of Stevan J. Brams, published today in The Washington Post, his sensible cool-heads-should-prevail No First Use article, suggesting what surely must already be known to the military and diplomatic professionals, yet, like good communication and plans for anything, often go awry when the man-child we elected into office last year prefers to pick fights, sorta like that kid in the 4th grade that we all still remember.

It certainly doesn't take a degree in Communication Studies to intuitively know that ambiguous and illogical communication is often the manifestation of ambiguous and illogical thoughts - all bad, and all resulting in the recipient taking what they determine to be their own interpretation of the message in hand and acting, thusly, in their own best interests for success - or for survival, as the case may be. 

Brams sensibly suggests - as can be expected to be suggested in a newspaper such as The Washington Post which trends toward moderation and steady temperaments - that the well-established Nixonian "Mad Man" theory of nuclear war  (< article from The Atlantic linked here) holds true perhaps on occasion (as he aptly compares it to a game of "chicken" with two drivers heading toward each other on a stretch of road) yet only, perhaps, when one player can truly be determined by both players to be the top mad man. 

The problem with Trump's play of this hand, however, is that he has grossly underestimated his opponent in North Korea, and he is - sad to say - a bit out of his league. Because as it turns out, negotiating real estate leasing contracts during polite martini lunches at Four Seasons in midtown Manhattan is not really the same as is facing off against someone who has a history of feeding some of his political prisoners (while they're still alive) to packs of hungry wild animals - and executes the others by having them tied to wooden posts and pulverized with anti-aircraft weaponry; someone who starves millions of his own population, and someone who would actually enjoy - and now has the ability to - turn both yourself and your cities into smoking piles of radioactive ash. So, although Trump may try to talk tough while standing in front of the cameras in his Brioni suit, Little Rocket Man has actual experience out in the field as an unbridled killing machine. 

This underestimation of the recipients' tenacity repeats itself countless times each day in workplaces where the manager has, for reasons as childlike as Trump's own behavior (relying on ambiguity, coupled with a scary comb-over haircut) decided that such an approach is more efficient and preferable to providing, what Brams refers to, as observable "bright lines" to reassure. In other words, as nutty as it sounds, some estates actually reject providing their domestic workers with those reassuring bright lines of 1) what exactly constitutes successful service presentations, and 2) what exactly are the lines never to cross over; all known collectively as: workplace standards, clear guidance, and clear staff performance expectations and reviews; having decided that the confusing performance of "I'll just try to make them scared of me and, well, they just better watch it and not make me mad! - or, well, um, they're gonna get it!" method of domestic worker management is in the best interest of the principals.

And, sadly, they often have the principals themselves to back them up and congratulate them on this absurd management style, having denied the Estate Manager the tools (authority and operations structure) and resources (processes for human resource management), leaving many Estate Managers having little more to do with their days except to be smiling big n' goofy at the principals while perpetually apologizing for the shitty service - which the mister and misses have, ironically, themselves created.


Funny thing is, that just like Trump is experiencing now, whether on the nuclear battlefield or within the downstairs staff labyrinths... it's easy to find oneself suddenly matched up against some pretty powerful forces.

Very proud things, people are, and they don't like to be wrong. I guess it's hardwired into us from birth. All good, I suppose, except when just two people determined to both being not-wrong comes at the cost of millions of other people - us - facing going to our death under the most horrible of conditions imaginable.  

And bad communication is horrible enough when only the remodeling project comes in late, or the organic toast is burnt.  

And if for that reason only, the Brams article is certainly worth learning from.

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