published Saturday, April 28th, 2012

The fabric of failure

In any job or assignment, there are specific tasks and behaviors that are necessary for the mission or project to be ruled a success or completed.

A few items have been in the media lately on the national and local level that instruct those who are willing to learn. These occurrences have sad similarities and led to similar, very common results.

First, the Government Services Administration, the federal government's procurement and management agency of more than 12,000 employees, has been publicly embarrassed over the extravagant $823,000 price tag of an October 2010 conference that provided staffers eight trips to a resort city for planning, at an additional $150,000.

The GSA scandal, now under congressional investigation, has attempted in the four investigative hearings already convened to justify the waste of taxpayer dollars spent for "a clown, a mind reader and the manufacture of commemorative coins awarded to employees."

Second, 12 Secret Service agents and another 12 military personnel were found to have lost focus in their advance security work on behalf of the president of the United States in Cartagena, Columbia for the Summit of the Americas. These 24 individuals tasked with protecting our president from harm engaged in "egregious misconduct," as noted by Paula Reid, the new Secret Service boss for the South American region. Reid urgently packed up the dirty two dozen and sent them back to the U.S. to untangle their web of misbehavior involving at least 20 prostitutes and heavy drinking.

Then, locally, there are those at Signal Mountain Middle-High School whose task it was to chaperone seniors on a cruise that had been school sanctioned. The agreement reached before their departure seemed reasonable and clear: Behavior permitted on the trip would be the same behavior permitted on campus back home.

That simple rule was violated not just by uncooperative students, but also adults.

So, what are the common threads that weave a tapestry that reflects these three events?

Arrogance: For reasons we may never understand, there are often people in groups, organizations or on teams who believe that the rules just don't apply to them. In that wrongly held notion, those few whose narcissism pushes their behavior and influence to the edge, if not over, the stated limits, jeopardize the group's plan, mission or goal.

Selfishness: Closely following the thread of arrogance is the selfish pursuit of an individual's personal desire. In these three instances, the idea of the group or organization is secondary to the individuals involved. The "egregious misconduct" of the few shows the disregard for the group or organization for the price of personal gratification.

The lack of accountability: Whether it's perceived or actual, the belief that the rejection of standards or stated goals will have little to no consequence always will be a thread in the fabric of failure. Those who are likely to break or stretch the rules will do just that in an environment of stratified rules or selective enforcement.

The lesson learned?

There are countless folks in any group or organization who operate within the bounds of their job description, follow the rules and stay on point. These team players are captured in legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi's statement: "Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a civilization work."

Conversely, the few who thumb their noses at rules garner the spotlight of scrutiny, erode the trust of an institution or team and harm the reputations of those who remain committed.

There is no "I" in team, but there is in failure.

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nucanuck said...

"egregeous misconduct"?

As far as we know, the Secret Service and Marines on assignment in Colombia were of-duty after-hours and engaging in perfectly legal behavior not uncommon under similar circumstances. Why is anyone shocked or surprised? Bars and brothels can be found at the gates of military bases all over the world.

Should their wives be disgusted or angry? That's a private matter. Should these people be hung out to dry for legal behavior because we think it unseemly?

April 28, 2012 at 12:48 a.m.
EaTn said...

The person in charge of this agency is to blame for either not being in touch or for ignoring their actions. The agency should give the prostitute who blew the whistle a big fat tip.

April 28, 2012 at 7:39 a.m.
hotdiggity said...

JonRoss, exactly what "immoral behavior" are you referring to?

April 29, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.
jesse said...

havin a beer is immoral?

uh oh, i am in BIG trouble!!

April 29, 2012 at 8:19 a.m.
nucanuck said...

JR, fill in some details on these parties that you seem to know so much about.

April 29, 2012 at 9:54 a.m.
chatt_man said...

JonRoss, I'm afraid some people on the left are so ignorant, so wrapped up in their barryoism, that there is no hope to educate them.

April 29, 2012 at 1:32 p.m.
nucanuck said...


You boys don't offer up much content.

April 29, 2012 at 1:41 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Whatever you think of BHO, we are likely going to have 4.5 more years of him. I find him a big disappointment because he is so similar to Bush and Romney. We are going to get the same gruel until we collapse of out own weight. We might as well have a one party system.

April 29, 2012 at 4:54 p.m.
hotdiggity said...

Wow, if a person misses the Hannity or Limbaugh show they can always catch the reruns here. JonRoss could fill in for either one of them it seems.

Since JR seems to be offended by immorality perhaps he could do some research here.

Seriously, we don't need a rerun of the policies and destruction of the previous administration. We are still digging ourselves out from that calamity.

April 29, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Digging out? Debt, digging deeper. Joblessness, digging deeper.

April 30, 2012 at 12:15 a.m.
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