My local rag reports on the Navy’s effort to keep the fleet of unreliable, outdated “Sea Dragon” choppers in service because it’s all they got. It details the inertia of bureaucracy, one of the most powerful forces in organizational behavior, whether, mind you, the organization in question is public or private.
The most recent story tells of an officer who died in a crash at sea. Here’s a bit:
Not long after joining his Norfolk-based squadron in 2010, he began to question the decision. Something wasn’t right. Months later, after he took over as the division officer in charge of maintenance, he began to realize the depth of the problems. The aging helicopters weren’t getting the care they needed. Maintenance protocols were being skipped. Replacement parts were scarce, and when they were available, it was usually because they had been plucked from another Sea Dragon. At any given time, only a few of the squadron’s helicopters were ready to fly.
Whenever Wes tried to correct the problems, he felt as if he was bucking a chain of command that had grown accustomed to business as usual. He learned that a 20-something-year-old lieutenant has only so much power. Finally, a little more than a year ago, Wes told Nicole he was ready to get out. Maybe he could fly for the Coast Guard, he suggested.
Read the whole series, and, as you do, remember that the first response of any organization to criticism is to circle the wagons and protect their own. In this way, the Navy is no different from GM is no different from Sony is no different from Honda is no different from–well, you get the idea.
The impulse of any organization is always to protect its members, because, hey! they are our friends and coworkers and we know they didn’t mean anyone any harm, so any harm must have been an accident and stuff happens and we’re all good guys here because we know each other and play golf at the same clubs and are trying to do good jobs and don’t intentions count?
My local rag may not be the best local rag and they are hurting like many other local rags (Damn you, Craig’s List), but they try. That’s one reason I pay for delivery; I could read it online, but I pay for print. If I could, I’d pay more papers for print, but I can’t. It’s up to you to support your own local rag.
I will not forget that they were the only newspaper in Virginia to oppose “Massive Resistance.”