Saturday, April 29, 2006

Competition May Not be All Good

Dear President Bush,

Your worship of free markets and competition remains unchecked. The White House’s recent actions on rapidly rising energy prices and record oil company profits reveal a hand’s off position. I believe your position is to let competition do its thing.

Another story showed the damaging impact of competition in the American workplace. It had the audacity to suggest win/lose compensation practices and public humiliation are “team building” exercises. That is as accurate as the federal government saying they are “conducting” continuous quality improvement.

What exercises did Alarm One use to “motivate” its employees?

Sales teams were encouraged to compete, and the losers were forced to eat baby food, wear diapers, or get spanked on the buttocks with an opposing company's metal-poled yard signs, according to court documents.

How did these competitive motivational games work? They didn’t. People quit with one even suing the Alarm One. The jury awarded the victim $1.7 million dollars.

The next time you speak of the unfettered benefits of competition pull out this letter. You may also wish to reference the T-ball coach who paid a child $20 to take his underperformer teammate out with a few swings of the bat. Both are examples of intentional win/lose where the physical and mental health of the loser don’t matter. You are most familiar with that game, living “here in Washington, DC”.

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