2 years ago: Playoffs and rocking chairs

2 years ago: Playoffs and rocking chairs January 7, 2013

From this blog, Jan. 7, 2011: Playoffs and rocking chairs

Some lady working on the assembly line at the Acme Rocking Chair Co. hasn’t seen a raise in eight years and her boss keeps telling her that she’s got to increase the product-units-per-hour beyond all reasonable expectation of quality. Every incentive, every instruction Acme Rocking Chair is giving her demands that she lower her standards for quality and accept that it is now her job to crank out crappy chairs.

But somehow she has got it in her head that she doesn’t really work for the Acme Rocking Chair Co. The way she thinks of it, she works for the person who will one day sit in that chair she’s making. And unlike the Acme Rocking Chair Co., that person has never treated her badly. It strikes her as wrong somehow — morally wrong — to provide a crappy chair for that person.

So she works twice as hard for the same pay and bites her lip. And whenever she gets another memo from Mr. Acme informing her that product-units-per-hour must yet again be increased, she thinks, “Screw you — I’m going to keep making good chairs, the best chairs I can, no matter what you tell me, you dim-witted, overpaid moron.” And exactly that — her perverse, rebellious commitment to doing good work as a way of doing justice for the customer and simultaneously flipping off the bosses — that’s pretty much all that’s keeping corporate America afloat.


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