What I learned about imposters from the private sector
Working for a major business, I discovered firsthand that big corporations are actually small governments. Therefore, their problems, and their solutions, point the way to how we can identify, and repair, what is going wrong with America.
In the 1990s, I was attending college after completing twenty years in the armed forces. I was studying business accounting. To help pay for my schooling, I took a part-time, low-level job with a subcontractor for a large company whose name is synonymous with top-of-the-line computer technology. In that job, I got a close-up look at the inner workings of one of the corporations I was studying in school. It was an eye-opener.
For some reason, people in the company would drop by my office and converse with me, perhaps because I was so unimportant and non-threatening. Many times, they were venting their frustrations. Here are only two of many snippets that I still remember, because they reveal so much about problems we still face today, both in business and government.
A salesman lamented that he had visited a potential buyer for a new line of computerized workstations. A contract here would have made the salesman's year. All went well until the buying agent noted that he did not like the dreary appearance of our desktop computers. Could he get them in brighter colors? The salesman was forced to reply that the manufacturer took great stock in the professional, albeit dull, presentation of its product. Any exception would require a complicated approval process. The request would have to go through several layers of middle management. It would take at least six months, with no guarantee of approval. The potential buyer sighed and said, well, we'll have to settle for that, but first I have other salesmen to interview. As our salesman left, he overheard the next salesman say, sir, my company can deliver any color computers you like, and have them installed over the weekend. My visitor lamented that as soon as he heard that, he knew he had lost the sale — and he had.
Another fellow I remember worked in the graphics department. He complained that he would produce expensive graphs and illustrations that served no purpose other than to help one manager impress other managers within the company. He had suggested, as a cost-savings measure, that his department produce fancy, costly, whiz-bang graphics only for potential customers, not for internal management meetings. Request denied.
Finally, at some later point, the company predictably found itself in dire straits. It was losing market share to nontraditional, startup competitors. There was a very real prospect of going out of business. A new CEO was hired. On day one, he fired the entire contingent of middle managers and empowered the lowest levels to enact reforms in a streamlined environment devoid of bureaucrats. Not only were the old-guard managers unnecessary, but their only effect seemed to have been to inhibit the corporation from being more successful.
I met some of those fired managers as they literally applied for jobs similar to my humble position. At forty-plus years of age, they had stagnated in jobs where productivity had been not only unrewarded but discouraged. As one of them told me, his daily task was to make sure to justify his own position, mostly by stifling good suggestions from subordinates for so long that, when and if he finally approved them, it made him look good. It was always safer, however, to obstruct.
Some of these former managers admitted to me that they had never felt qualified to hold the titles they did and that they had been in a constant struggle to make it appear as if they knew what they were doing. It is called, by some, imposter syndrome.
I was astounded to have learned that bureaucratic ineptitude is not restricted to government. It is a feature of any large organization in which the lower levels no longer have unfettered communication with top management. Protecting one's turf takes precedence over the greater good.
In government, it is worse. No one, with the possible exception of President Trump, understood the problem and sought to correct it. At least the CEO of the corporation, unlike in government, took an axe to the deadwood and, almost overnight, restored sanity to an irrational system.
Unfortunately, President Trump was illegally ousted by imposters, people who are clearly and tragically incapable of doing the job of securing the national interest and serving the public. Worse than unqualified, they are criminally corrupt, protected by an interlocking system of conspirators that keeps them unaccountable and in power.
Will they themselves be fired and removed? That remains to be seen. Until then, I have one greater concern: will someone discover that I am unqualified to write commentary for American Thinker? Gosh, I hope not.
Image via Pickpik.
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