Scott has brought up what is in my mind the key question about values, how
do we apply them in a community setting? He gives the example of the
pipeline rupturing due to a known problem which was to be fixed at a
"convenient time" meaning less disruptive and less costly. Known safety
solutions had been deemed too expensive.
How do we judge the pipeline opertor? They had a history of similar
spills over 10 years. But we don't know if they are skating close to the
line or just incompetent. Maybe we don't care. They responded quickly to
the problem, so perhaps they should not be fined too severely. Clean up
costs will be $4-5 million at their expense. Is this covered by
insurance? Certainly the normal preventive safety efforts would not be,
but this may be. Many people knew of the problem but did not act.
I would add the Valuejet crash as another recent example. FAA (at some
level) knew rules were being bent. Value Jet may actually not have known
as much because of the way they were subcontracting their maintenance.
These const-cutting measures were being implicitly condoned in the
interest of being efficient and effective. On the other hand, as one
interviewee said on the radio, there is nothing efficient or effective
about a plane crash. In other words, it is worth a lot to avoid a crash.
The FAA had conflicting goals which made their decision-making situation
more difficult. The same was probably true in the case of the pipeline.
Scott wonders if heads should roll at the pipeline company and in the
government. If there should be a massive fine or a symbolic one. Should
the operator be restricted in their operations? Who should be
spokesperson for the community's values in this case?
Wonderful questions, and exactly why values are so fascinating. My paltry
suggested answers are that the elected officials are elected precisely to
promulgate the community's values. Unfortunately or fortunately there is
probably no recourse with them except to replace them at the next
election. Even that will not occur if this not one of the biggest issues
facing the electorate.
For me the company has shown -- apparently -- a consistent disregard for
community values and safety over a long period of time. If I were the
dictator -- a very unlikely occurrence -- I would like to have from them a
sincere form of repentance similar to what I understand occurred during
the cultural revolution in china. Barring such a sincere repentance,
requiring a huge bond, to be held in escrow for the next 10 years against
a future accident might not be a bad idea. Another accident would in that
way drive the company out of business.
I would be the first to acknowledge that these suggestions leave me
dissatisfied. This is an excellent subject, and I would welcome some
Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc. email@example.com
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <firstname.lastname@example.org> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>