Thursday, June 17, 2010

• What Congress Should Be Asking Of BP

Congress is performing its requisite role on the nation’s worst environmental disaster. Congressmen from both sides of the political divide attack BP with a certain resolute and earnest energy that plays well for the cameras, and may provide some traction with the folks back home. For the long term, this circus in Washington is actually dropping the ball on behalf of America.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), led the charge with repeated accusations and other attempts to extract response from BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward. With his company’s stock trading at about $31, well below half of the high it once enjoyed, Hayward looked and acted lost and confused, as he deflected questions. The optics were also negative as he disavowed any knowledge of events that might have led to the calamity that killed 11 of his employees. Unfortunately for America, he provided nothing that could be used against him in any court of law.

It may be useful for Congress to become educated through these hearings and perhaps oversight bodies will be pressed to actually do their jobs in future, however, the nature of the questions serves little purpose toward ensuring the long term reparations that will inevitably need to be provided to all those who have really incurred losses on the gulf coast.

For purposes of grandstanding, Congress is getting itself stuck in macro details that in effect leave Hayward and his Board of Directors off the hook.

Here is the direction the Congressional questions should take and why:

The most critical element in the management of a corporation is the structure of its executive lines of command.

When a CEO issues instructions, missives, or policies, and re-structures the company, as he or she deems appropriate to implement plans to achieve the company’s mission, the line of command and its “walking papers,” are clearly delineated, stated and evident.

Whether such instructions are in writing or verbal, each senior manager is given direction and parameters. The trickle down process permeates the corporation, and unless there is abject incompetence, even in a quarter of a trillion dollar enterprise like BP, each employee from the CFO to the local technician knows his or her job. Each employee understands the scope of the decisions he or she can make.

This may sound obvious, however Congress it ignoring this critical reality as it discharges indignant shame toward BP. Stupak and his committee should delve into Tony Hayward’s decision and policy distribution process. The sub-committee should question how Hayward has actualized his leadership of one of the world’s largest corporations. Congress should pull evidence on how and how much responsibility has been delegated to each executive, and how the process is in turn pushed down the various lines of command.

With such facts in hand, the legal process can place responsibility on specific individuals who will not be able to pull a “Tony-Hayward-side-step” once the details are collected. If there has been willful negligence or worse, the specific details pertaining to the chain of command will become critical to extracting cash and compensation - through legal means. Knowledge on the decision process will provide Congress much clout that it currently doesn’t have. The information will provide legal recourse.

Congress will also need to make sure that along the path of assigning blame to specific employees, it doesn’t make the mistake of destroying a whole company. In most large corporations there are some bad apples. Even if the rot goes to the very top of the company including its Board of Directors, this rarely means the whole company is blamable or culpable.

Congress should take care that it does not destroy the world’s fourth largest refiner. There are countries like China waiting on the sidelines who would welcome a “fire sale” on BP’s assets, and who would welcome overnight expansion into the Gulf’s oil and gas reserves. Congressional and White House rhetoric should temper itself, and act with a little more command of common sense.

.... Read more!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

• Is More Evidence On Obama’s Presidency Needed?

The Mainstream Media is tripping all over itself deciding how to not embarrass itself over the latest demonstrations of incompetence emanating from the Oval office. America not only elected a novice with absolutely no worthwhile experience in managing anything, other than giving a speech, but through its votes America also populated the White House with incompetent individuals.

American voters should have thought a little longer on the ramifications of hiring an apprentice President. Of course, the nature of an apprentice is to work under the wings of an expert, which makes what’s going in the Oval office rather understandable. There’s no one with talent or experience in running anything, who might take the President under his or her wing.

For a country built on the fruits and creativity of the entrepreneurial spirit, it remains stupefying that an administration voicing so much animosity toward business and the business ethos was ever elected. I noted before the election that the “Tells” were of grave concern. Now, well into this Administration’s ill-advised ramblings and mismanaged trampings through the complex corridors of the economy, foreign affairs and domestic affairs, the MSM finds itself looking for rationalizations.

The MSM is becoming creative in excusing the object of its sycophancy. For example, the New York times thinks Obama is not able to get emotional or “involved” because he is too “cool.” Hollywood thinks he should lose a little bit of his “cool,” and show more anger. Does America really think it elected a cool President? Does America really think anger is a way to find a solution? Such thinking is not only idiotic, but sadly for the country, it excuses someone incapable of making critical decisions. This has nothing to do with cool.

The decisions that have been required of the White House since the election have been significant, and have been plentiful. None have found decisive or thoughtful direction from the President. Instead, Obama took America on a left turn into healthcare, at a time when Americans were stuck in consternation over the loss of jobs.

America has elected a President who doesn’t even know what questions to ask, . . . of anyone. It elected someone who made more trips on Air Force One and made more speeches than any other President in his first year in office.

America does not expects a single individual to have all the answers, however America should expect the individual sitting in the revered Oval office to know enough to surround himself with people more talented than he, and of whom he can ask the tough questions, and to whom he can give very direct and specific marching orders. The electorate elected a fumbling Administration at a time when a tough manager was called for. The MSM is running out of rationalizations and excuses.
The evidence is in.

.... Read more!