Tag Archives: corporations

American Corporate Influence or Life in the Losing Lane

Meh – I will probably get into trouble for this. Hey, look – I have 6 years in the workforce left; you wanna can me? C’est la vie but if I can get one person to think about life’s true priorities? I’m happy. Life is too short to guard your words, thoughts because of a corporate entity.

Obviously, I work for a corporation. I am a child of the late sixties and seventies; the movement that guided North American youth left its mark. I was too young for Woodstock but I remember seeing what corporate and corrupt politics did to young men in Vietnam, to people of colour in the south. I was old enough to follow Watergate and the junk bond crooks of Wall Street. My opinion of corporate and political minions were formed and as I started to move into the workforce, those opinions were validated and set in concrete.

As a Canadian, American points of view are everywhere but I am also a Quebecoise. As a Quebecois, I am influenced by the life view of Europe. We are Americanized on the surface but scratch that surface and the European culture runs deep.

Many of us work to live – we do not follow the American or the Americanized Canadian “live to work” philosophy. We know that this leads to a shallow and sad sort of life. A life bereft of real family connection, of true enjoyment of life.

Here’s a confession; I am connected to my job, 24/7 and I am working toward changing this. I am connected through my home computer, through my cell phone. I am tethered…no…I am willfully shackled to the company. What will this get me? If I’m lucky? A pat on the head. My problem is that I truly believe that customers are important – their needs, their requirements are a priority. Why is this a problem? Because when you work for a corporation with American talking heads? The real priority is the bottom line and if this means cutting staff and working the current employees into heart attacks, breakdowns or quitting in disgust? No matter, as long as a profit is shown.

Europe stands back and gazes in scorn. A few American corporations “get it” and as a result, leave other corporations in their fiscal dust….Google for example, Microsoft used to be thus but I’m not sure anymore. These are corporations that “get it”. They strive to attain balance between the priority of attracting and retaining staff that and to be quite blunt “give a shit” in their job. These companies encourage pride, reward hard work and maintain that work and life must be in balance. Wall Street and the big auto makers look down their noses at the policies of the Silicon Valley yet, although dot.com took a beating, it was the cream that rose to the top and the cream remain strong while Sally May and the auto companies had to go in search, as is viewed by the great unwashed, with hat-in-hand for bailouts. A bailout is failure. Not that the execs care. They still get their salaries and perks.

You see, the US and some of Canada is no better than the worst of the medieval world of Seigneurs and serfs. This is the feudal system gone 2017.

But, just as the serfs found ways to enjoy their lives, one day – the inequity, the cruelty will become too much and the serfs will find a way to fight back. Look up the word “sabotage”. The French and Russian revolutions are extreme examples but this is what happens when you treat the people, who allow you to feed at your trough, with no regard. History is replete with warnings. A lot of Europe took notes but the US and Canada seem to have forgotten their roots. We all arrived here due to some sort of feudal jack booting.

I have learned some valuable lessons in the corporate world – I learned the most valuable lesson of all, through the passing of a good friend. She died and corporate didn’t even take notice. She was a good worker, she had strong ethics and should have been a shining star but her ethics had her deemed a “troublemaker”. Work was heaped on her and when the stress began to show? She was the problem…not the company.

I lost my folks and a few good friends over the past 7 years and I deduced that life is too short to be indebted to a corporate entity that won’t even notice my departure – whether it is a moral coil departure or a “take this job and shove it” exit. It took a while for reality to set in.

If I drop off the face of the earth tomorrow? My seat won’t even be allowed to cool before the next peon is put in my chair. The corporation won’t comfort my husband, my kids or grandchildren. These people, these special people in my life don’t exist in the corporate milieu where I work, far more than those 8 hours a day, I am “technically” contracted to work.

So, in the future, my priorities will change – my ethics will not be set on the backburner, my family will not take second place. I will not be overburdened because corporate requires cutbacks. I will say “No.” I will re-set myself – a hard boot, so to speak.

All of this to say; wake up. The corporation will eat you up and spit you out. Your family will be cut loose. You are killing yourself to make someone else rich. You are those serfs from the middle ages. “Please sir, can I have some more?”, even though YOU are the one who has put that gruel in the pot.

I’ll do my job to the best of my ability, because I come from a family with a strong work ethic but I am also Quebecois and I now know that a line needs to be drawn. The corporation doesn’t care that I’m darn good at what I do. They can and will fill my chair with someone with less skill if they can find a cheap way to do it.

My life wasn’t given to me to be a sap for the rich. My life needs to be enjoyed because, goddam…it is too short to waste slaving for strangers who don’t give a damn.

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Be Afraid

why outsourcingWe are all in deep, deep doo-doo. I am not being facetious. It is the truth. We are about to learn what trouble truly is…the trouble millions have experienced and we, really, have not.

One of the American presidents – was it Reagan? Yammered on about the trickle effect in the economy. What he neglected to mention was that the trickling was shit – it was trickling before but it is well on its way to being a wash-out for all of us.

I have mentioned the danger before but I really don’t think enough people truly “get it.” They believe their jobs to be, relatively, safe. No. Uhuh. Here’s how it is going down, currently:

Few raw materials are produced in North America anymore.

The raw materials that ARE produced are shipping offshore for manufacturing. North American manufacturers close – steel industry for example. Automotive industry, another example. Textiles and clothing – yet another example. Food is also being shipped offshore for processing.

Processing also includes packaging. Another industry dying in North America.

Freight forwarding – operations are being outsourced. Nothing you do at work cannot be done far more cheaply, offshore.

It is simple – perhaps too simple for people to really understand:

Corporations are always on the lookout to decrease assets and expenses. Always on the lookout for ways to increase net profit and of course, profit on share to the shareholders.

They look to underdeveloped and “developing” countries where material, labour and final production costs are significantly lower than their current location.

In underdeveloped and developing countries, there is a huge potential cheap labour market. These people may be skilled and if they are not, are willing to be trained at rock bottom cost to the corporation. No employee rights, no benefits, no sick days, no paid holidays…constant operation at minimal cost and bother. What corporation would walk away from that? None. Special dispensation from governments falling over themselves to open the economic doors to investment and jobs; corporate heaven.

Anything done on computer or run through a computer can be done through outsourcing and done far more cheaply. The internet and intranets have made this not only plausible but possible.

Payroll systems, accounting systems, inventory systems – everything can be run offshore. Everything.

This is happening now, as I write this – a boardroom is planning a move that will see North Americans out of work. Corporations have no loyalty to their country of origin, they have no compassion for the single mom tossed out because of “re-structuring”. The only and I do mean, ONLY loyalty a corporation possesses is to profit. Your company may have a lovely little employee handbook where they discuss stress levels and employees as valued members/associates but words, dear friends, collections of the letters in the alphabet with no real meaning.

Consider single mom – she’s been tossed out. She can’t afford daycare anymore and there are more single moms like her; daycares start to lay off staff – not enough children. She certainly cannot afford new items, nor can a lot of other folks, stores begin to close. More for sale signs or forclosure signs show up in communities but no one is buying. Taxes remain high and climb higher because of the social impact of so many out of work. Budget cuts to all sectors by government with less available tax dollars to throw around; hospital beds close, medical and non-medical staff are laid off. Elder residences start to thin out as families are no longer able to meet the monthly rents and upkeep for their elderly relatives. Staff is laid off.

No one can afford to shop – warehouses containing products produced overseas lay off personnel. Transport companies required to transport the products for distribution see their loads decrease, their warehouse and drivers see lay-offs.

Communication companies see less demand for their services – if it comes down to buying food, paying a utility versus a cell phone bill or internet invoice? Food and warmth will always win out.

No money to go out for dinner – restaurants lay off or even close. More unemployed.

This is not a doomsday scenario. This is happening right now and you won’t hear about on the popular media because many of these media outlets are owned by the very corporations taking full advantage of offshore operations. They aren’t about to advertise that they are dismantling the economy of an entire continent.

The sun that shone our our fiscal behinds has set. It is rising in the east, where labour is cheap, utilities are cheaper and it costs so much less to have a chair manufactured from raw to finished in China than it does in the U.S. or Canada.

There is nothing we can do, you and I, except do what we can to adjust to this new reality ahead of us. In 10 years, this blog won’t be here because I won’t be able to afford the internet but it won’t matter because neither will you. There will be no job around the corner. Unless you live around the corner from China, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia or Thailand.


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Where I Am Coming From

idealism-v-vendettaI was involved in a very interesting discussion with a young man, earlier today. A young man who could back up his side of the debate; I LOVE that. You learn from each other, the whole point of debate in my opinion. Care to debate that point? (ROFLMAO..sorry, couldn’t resist.) At any rate – it was interesting not only that he was able to back up his points of view from his perspective but also that he managed to remind me of my own idealism back in the day. It’s gone now. Gone the way of my waistline. Never to return.

The debate centered around a particularly onerous piece of garbage reporting on Fox News; little trio of morons trying to talk about Paganism, a topic they had not, and made glaringly apparent, researched and of which they knew less than nothing. There is a petition that some are signing to demand an apology from Fox CORPORATION. I have capitalized “corporation” for a reason…hopefully, it will become apparent as I babble on (sometimes I kill myself…Babble on…Babylon…Thelemites will get this…).

Back in the day – some 20 years ago; I was resident on a soapbox demanding respect for my beliefs. What beliefs you may well ask? At that point in time? Wiccan. I would get into debates with mainstream Christians who and rightly so, maintained that Wicca was a modern invention/concept/religion…whatever. They were right and I learned exactly how right, fairly quickly. Mind you, it isn’t that Christianity, Judaism or Islam is free of fairy tales either. None of us can truly proclaim authority on religion, God or what is and what is not a faith.

A lot of things came into play over the years. I worked for corporations, I became familiar with political processes, I observed society and delved into history, religious, social and political.

My idealism flew out the window. In all the millennia that we puny humans have walked, upright and formed societies – nothing has changed. Not really. The wealthy still control the great unwashed (that would be us)up to a point. Freedom of thought is something they have yet to truly control, although they are working on it through our education systems and media. Does anyone truly believe the news anymore? It isn’t news – it is canned opinion fed to the news CORPORATIONS via press releases. The news is fed to corporations by corporations. Government is a subsidiary of the corporate business world. To think or believe otherwise is akin to still believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

Nothing we do outside of our thinking processes is not controlled in some way, shape or form. I love that young people believe in change but I also love that little kids believe in a fat guy climbing down and chimney to toss out freebies, grab some cookies and milk on his way out. It doesn’t mean that I think this is reality. I just love the fantasy of both concepts.

I know, intimately, how corporations work. I know, intimately, how government works. On $$$ and the power it buys. And if you are like me? You have neither. Probably never will but I continue with an optimistic outlook because while they have the $$$ and the power? I have total control of my own thoughts and feelings. I also take great personal satisfaction in knowing that regardless of how much money, how much power they have? They still shit and piss like the rest of us. And they will die, become worm food just like the most humble of their victims.

I no longer have religion – they are all corporate in structure or wannabe. I have a philosophy and it fills my needs. I believe I have a life that is mine. I may have to slave for the corporations, political and business for 8 hours a day but the other 16 belong to me. I will continue to make the most of what I have, make the most of my thoughts and continue on as have my ancestors back when fur was the only option for clothing. The world is run by corporations and no amount of petitions, no protests in the streets will change that unless the corporations see a buck to be made.

I am the great unwashed, the proletariat and I do accept that. The acceptance is the taking back of personal power and negating the potential of injuring myself, butting my head against the wall of authority. Oh, I’ll continue to snipe at it but just for the fun of it and continue to wonder if their money and power make them any more tasty to the worms and death beetles when they die.

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LEAN, 5’s and Corporate Wankers

 

 

If you have never heard of the LEAN or Kaizen programs?  Fall to your knees in supplication and thanks.  It is absolutely and totally ridiculous.  I do give kudos to the sales staff of these programs and their ability to milk millions out of corporate talking heads; it smacks of genius.  Sell them something that is available for free (see http://wp.me/pW4rF-86 ); P.T. Barnum comes to mind “There is a sucker born every minute.”

The LEAN absurdity bases itself on the 5’s.  5 points that should be no-brainers to any walking, breathing and presumably sentient human being; here are the points for those incredibly fortunate individuals who have not had their intelligence and professionalism insulted…as yet…

1.  Sorting
2.  Straighten
3.  Sweeping/shining
4.  Standardize
5.  Sustain

Could this be any more ridiculous?  Millions paid out for the obvious and an absolute personification of the emperors having no clothes. 5’s…this is all just common sense and good work practice.

LEAN and the 5’s are the ways and means to create a world reminiscent of the George Orwell novel “1984”.  A world where there is no individuality, there is no innovation or creative thought process; a world of gray.  Stalin would on the LEAN bandwagon with pom-poms waving.  Imagine, as a professional, as working adult, being told that you require little labels to be put on your desk, identifying where your stapler should be, where your keyboard should be placed and the reasoning given?  So you are aware if something is missing.  I know, gentle reader, that you may think that I exaggerate or that I am having you on, I only wish that I were.  It is the truth.  Labels and shadow boards, as if we are all in kiddie day care and need constant supervision.  Some companies go so far as to require employees to all dress in corporate colours, creating slogans and even jingles.

If one decides that this is not going to happen in their world?  If one stands up and says “I am NOT a corporate automaton!”, they are quickly whisked off and told to toe the line or leave.  I toe nobody’s line and if this means I must leave?  So be it.  Adieu to Big Brother.  I will not be a part of your Oceania.

All this money spent, in an economy that sees entire countries crashing and burning due to debt load, when the solution to creating more efficient workplaces sits in front of these boardroom robots.  All they needed to do was to ask, ask the great unwashed who shore up their ridiculous decision making, their tossing of money away on ill-conceived plans of action.  The soldiers of the front lines have always had a grasp of reality, have always been the place to go for answers but apparently when a human being is bestowed a title, it comes at a cost – common sense, coherent and logical thought processes and yes, even working brain cells are removed.  You don’t crash through the glass ceiling without paying the ferryman.

Innovative thought, creative solutions are banned under the weight of the 5’s and LEAN; companies refuse to admit that the system is ridiculous, that all the money spent was for naught.  How could solutions be found within the employee base?  After all, what do the employees know?  They have no title, they don’t sit at boardroom tables, ergo, they are simply too stupid to understand the BIG PICTURE.  Well, I am one of the great unwashed and I do see the BIG PICTURE and I see it clearly..again, I say – the Emperors have no clothes and if it takes a plebe, a peon to point this out?  Then we are in more financial trouble, as a species than I previously believed.

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Corporate Think

Anyone who works for a corporation knows the frustrations of “Corporate Think.” It is actually, in my opinion anyway, an oxymoron. Corporations do not think. There are too many variables for thinking to actually take place. The egos, the power struggles, the egos…all of these things thwart any attempt to actually “think.” The larger the corporation the less actual practical thinking goes on.

Far too many corporations are locked into the 80’s corporate mindset; perhaps because too many corporate talking heads are from the generation that came into their own in the 80’s. Employees are seen as necessary liabilities; the current popular definition would be pawns, to be moved and manipulated at will. Removed from game play at a whim or the result of backward corporate “think” because…well, due to all the power struggles and ego growth, many corporate execs have missed the boat, train or planes of the future or bottom-line of true growth as opposed to juggled numbers.

When one thinks of a successful growth oriented corporate structure, one tends to think of Microsoft or Google. The one thing these two corporate giants possess is the ability to create and maintain employee loyalty. To apply the practice and implementation of corporate think by looking at the new, the innovative and the forward motion of business theories as opposed to being locked into some sort of 80’s preservationist mentality. Maintain the godhead of the Board of Directors, give orders from on high – never mind if the orders are virtually impossible to implement in real life, in the trenches – ego must come first.

Granted, Microsoft and Google take the treatment of their employees to the extreme but is there a correlation between the success and meteorological rise of these two companies and their treatment of employees, from the mailroom guy to their corporate honchos? It is too easy to say that they were in the right place at the right time. This would qualify as a cop-out when used by the executives of other less successful corporations. Any company, any corporation can be there at the “right place, right time.” It depends on the helmsmen and women. Are they able to discern the appropriate direction or are they too concerned with their own appearance within the corporate structure? Are these people able to implement innovative ideas or do they stay in the background, offering only corporate policy and rhetoric, using many words but actually saying nothing, at all?

The world of business is changing, each second of every day, this corporate blue ball in space is changing at unprecedented rates. So many corporations are simply unable to keep up and the reasons lie at the top, not the bottom, although the bottom is the level that is forced to suffer for the tunnel vision of the top. One of life’s truer “truisms.” The trenches is where the innovations can begin but if the upper levels are unable to see past their policies and their egos, those innovations lie silent, lie dormant and as a result, the corporation falls behind.

Without the support of the peons, of those movable/removable pawns, the corporation remains in stasis. It may well maintain its position but it cannot move forward. The desperation of the upper management types can be seen through their implementation of ISO, LEAN or Kaizen programs. These programs are signs that the directors are unable to pilot their own ships, unable to reach down to the bowels of their ship and find solutions within. If something fails, then blame can be laid at the feet of the “programs.”

Quick fix. Fixes that can be handled by “others.” Fixes that won’t come back to haunt the salaries or benefits of the Chairman or the rest of, usually, a very inflated board of directors.

Some of the fixes are so incredibly simple that they are overlooked, ignored. Fixes that Microsoft, Google and others have kept to themselves because they are so simply, so truly easy to implement. So simplistic that most executives don’t want to be seen associated with them, as it doesn’t require their names be attached, specifically, to something that doesn’t require a full staff to get the ball rolling. Solutions that don’t require expensive travel or expense account padding.

Let’s take a look at the fad of LEAN. Essentially, it is a solid theory that can be applied in any business with some tweaking according to the industry/milieu. LEAN is a business model that encourages the discovery of lost time, of repetitive tasks, of resource wasting and attempts to streamline a business to make it more competitive in the marketplace. What usually seems to happen is that while the LEAN is applied to the corporation, the LEAN theory itself becomes a drain on resources and personnel, which is completely contrary to the spirit of the thing. The facts and figures, the reports and statistics take over and the LEAN philosophy gets lost in the paper shuffle. LEAN was originally used in Japan, where in the manufacturing sector, it had an absolutely positive impact. Other areas of business stood up and took notice. It began to be applied in all sorts of areas of industry, manufacturing and other market based industries. It, by and large, was applied incorrectly and instead of creating a streamline, it simply turned into its own monster of time waste, resource waste and worst of all, monetary waste. Streamlining an assembly line requires particular stratagems while a company involved in, say import or exportation of goods, requires totally different strategies.

Some corporations are starting to take a look at the importance of creating community but lordy, lordy..they have no clue where to begin and as a result, negate their own intent. They sabotage themselves through their own implementations. You cannot create a community with people who simply don’t care to be a part of it. First and foremost, when this initiative seems to be falling on deaf ears, when the only people part of that community are the ones in the upper echelons or the obvious career climbing types, it would seem, to me at any rate, that finding out why the initiative is not working would be a top priority.

Employees need to be engaged. They need to be given a reason to go that extra mile. When employees no longer care whether or not a company rises or falls, with the exception of their loss of employment. This absolutely must be addressed.

A simple statement – when an employee does not feel valued, it follows that the company will not be valued by the employee. Simple really. An elementary law of physics – for every action, there is a reaction. Corporations cannot survive without employees. Okay, a fairly moronic statement on face value but the astounding number of corporation who imply, by their actions, that employees are necessary liabilities, seem to say to their staff – you aren’t important enough to our bottom line to be of any real worth.

There are so many ways to make employees feel valued, feel that they have worth. Simple ways. Far easier to implement than million dollar investments in things like LEAN, ISO or Kaizen but these things are too simple for executives to consider. One of the keys to corporate success, to corporate growth lies in the simple tending to the roots, to ensuring a strong bedrock so that should the corporation rise, the foundations are strong enough to handle it.

An employee who feels valued, is a valued member of the corporate structure. A valued employee will help shore up that foundation. Start picking away at their sense of worth, of their dignity and the foundation will be weak, unable to move forward. Executives are a dime a dozen, an employee with a sense of self-worth, an employee who will go that extra mile because they truly feel that they are a part of something, is priceless. I would take 1 employee with a sense of being valued over 100 MBA holding, tunnel-vision executive types.


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