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April 08, 2005

The Parable of Joe Demmy

Joe Demmy is a junior executive working for the Acme Corporation. Acme is a large conglomerate, with its fingers in a lot of pies. Joe is pretty satisfied at Acme, but he doesn't much like the corporate leaders, whom he views as incompetent and corrupt. Despite this, however, a majority of shareholders has voted to retain the board and the CEO.

One day, Joe learns that the directors of Acme are considering investing in a new type of widget. Joe absolutely hates this idea. He thinks that the new widget would be a terrible mistake for the company, that it would be doomed to marketplace failure, that it would drain the corporate coffers and distract it from investing in more worthwhile ventures. Being a conscientious employee, Joe makes sure that everybody is aware of his dissent. He sends out emails. He carefully marshals his arguments and makes them to anybody in earshot. He loudly and repeatedly makes clear that, in his opinion, proceeding with the new widget would be a grievous error.

But Joe is, after all, only a junior executive, and despite his counsel and after much deliberation, the board and the CEO decide to proceed with the new widget. Defeat, far from discouraging Joe, spurs him to new heights of action. While preparations are being made for the widget's manufacture and marketing, Joe tells the media what a boneheaded blunder Acme is making. He confidently predicts failure, and disaster for his employer. When the widget goes into production, and Acme's marketing division is trying to sell it, Joe tells everybody what a rotten widget it is, and fundamentally flawed. When some of the widgets turn out to have a manufacturing defect, necessitating a partial recall, Joe howls his I-told-you-sos at the top of his lungs. When good news comes in about the widget's strong sales and very positive customer satisfaction ratings, Joe is mute. At every step of the way, Joe exerts himself to the utmost to thwart the widget's success. As Acme slowly grows to dominate the widget market and evidence accumulates that the board's decision was maybe not so dumb, Joe sulks in a kind of grim funk, muttering about how certain he is that any day now disaster will strike. At no time does Joe show any sign of getting behind a decision that, after all, is not his to make, nor of biting back his dissatisfaction for the sake of company unity.

You're Joe's manager. You're writing his annual review. What kind of score do you give him for company loyalty?

April 8, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Voicing your opinion internally is good, especially in the planning stage. It gets things out in the open and forces people to examine issues.

However, I would have fired him the first time he said anything outside of the company, especially to the media. The business workings of the company are too important and Joe jeopardizes the rest of the workforce if the new product tanks because of his actions.

Since this is a parable for what the Democrats have been doing for the past few years, I say boot them out of office. I can only hope that enough voters wake up on Election Day and elect people to the job that would actually represent THEM, not the NEA and other union executives.

Posted by: Doug Halsted | Apr 8, 2005 7:39:16 PM

Actually, Joe doesn't just represent Democratic elected officials, but the broader class of rabidly anti-war Americans. Since of course you cannot "fire" an American citizen, imagine that for some reason Joe is immune from being dismissed. Perhaps he has a contract, or is a member of a protected minority and poses a lawsuit risk.

So you can't fire him... but on his performance review, you'll surely not praise him as a loyal employee. On the contrary, Joe is terribly disloyal to his employer, just as the members of groups like MoveOn.org are disloyal to their country. They claim to be patriots. They are wrong.

Posted by: Voice of Reason | Apr 9, 2005 11:05:25 AM

Let's further imagine that members of the board have been planning the creation of the widget by fair means or foul since before they took control of the company, and that the manufacturing of the widget is killing thousands of loyal factory workers, while the widget itself is killing tens of thousands of customers...

Posted by: The Artificial Kid | Apr 23, 2005 3:43:39 PM

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