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The Cargo Cult of Business » About Cargo Cult

About Cargo Cult

This is, of course, what would be our mission statement, if it were not for the fact that, thanks to invidious corporate doublespeak, the term mission statement has a connotation of self-flattering half-truths and cleverly non-committal statements of vague sentiment. Since we hope to mitigate that sort of conduct, we’ll just stick with the blogosphere convention and call it our About page. :-)

First of all, we are excited at the prospects of being able to address the business community at large. We believe–- and it may be worth noting that our experience is entirely American– that the tempestuousness of the relationships between workers, and the corporations upon which the majority depend for their livelihoods, is rivaled only by the relationships between executives of those corporations and their various political constituencies. As often maligned as lauded, there is no question that our lives as Americans as well as the lives of the global population at large are increasingly at the mercy of the fractious tides of global business. An ongoing sea change has gripped the global marketplace, and the level of hegemony we as a nation decide to extend to these entities will have– and is having– worldwide repercussions at an individual level. We have come together as a community blog to be a voice of exposition for these trends and issues, hoping in the process to not only raise awareness but effect positive change in corporate practices and governance for the benefit of workers and society alike.

In the course of our career travels, we have been fortunate in our exposure to a diverse spectrum of corporate operations, from the customer-focused enthusiasm of Cisco Systems and the Internet revolution, to the relentless pace of high tech Silicon Valley startups,  and even the chaos-filled halls of Apple Computer where style often reigns over substance. And yet despite our preference for serving enlightened firms, we have watched an endless procession of diligent line workers with a passion for quality sent tumbling through the maelstrom of corporate politics, emerging as disenfranchised casualties of management practices that have allowed favoritism and un-tempered greed to corrupt the ideals of even the most sterling firms. The seemingly endless scandals rocking the corporate world– and leaving tens of thousands unemployed as titans crumble into dust– are the clarion call for remediation of business standards and practices, especially in larger firms. The factors contributing to this squandering of talent, all too frequent punishment of competency, and promotion and reward of  dishonorable conduct are legion, yet it is imperative that as a society and as a nation we continue to seek out and implement forms of corporate structure and corporate governance that serve us as citizens, rather than exploit us as consumers.

Corporate America and the U.S. Government are converging on a path of mutual interests and agendas, and we believe this is detrimental to both our freedoms as U.S. citizens and the viability of smaller corporations struggling to stay afloat in the wake of titans like Wal-Mart, Microsoft, and their zaibatsu brethren. Overarching these behemoths of political influence and consumer oppression are a governmental system characterized by deep and terrible injustice in its courts, rampant graft among its legislators, and political collusion and oppression of the populace by its executives. And yet… we are also partly responsible for these excesses of malfeasance, by our votes as citizens, by our efforts as employees, and by our purchases as customers.

The desperate need for redemption of the corporation as a beneficial social organism is why it is our mission with this blog to provide exposition of this clash between corporate, social, and government interests; a clash that forms the turbulent ocean defining the world of early twenty-first century America. It is our intent to provide insight and understanding into just how things can go so drastically wrong when so many people want them to go drastically right, and how a nation of citizens who want the freedom to live their own lives has been conscripted into a system of micromanagement by corporate and political interests whose actions are furthest from the people they claim to serve. The disparity between the appearance and reality of large corporate and political bodies serves as the perfect cornerstone for this venue, and the concept of a "cargo-cult" business culture perfectly captures this paradoxical dichotomy.

The idea of cargo cults as being evocative of various economic, scientific, and political processes is an old one, popularized extensively in the realms of hacker culture and scientific studies thanks to a series of remarks by the renowned Richard Feynmann. The Wikipedia has an excellent summaryof the phenomenon. Suffice it to say that in the world of business, the practice of people making decisions about things they do not understand is the very hallmark of executive power at many firms, a phenomenon employees from middle-management on down would no doubt emphatically agree with. And if this is true for corporate bodies, how much more true is it for our governances, which we somehow continue to naively trust to act in our best interests when all the evidence is to the contrary. The thinking that favors such practices is pernicious, a memetic infection of the worst sort that continues to wreak more havoc in boardrooms, assembly lines, and Senate floors than all the software viruses on the Internet combined.

It is of course our greatest hope that in some small measure we may be able to foster remediation of these great evils afflicting our nation and its economy. After all, we work here, too, and wouldn’t it be a great thing if genuine commitment to quality and employee empowerment were commonplace?  Furthermore, while we realize the chances of building a vast readership (with attendant revenues :-) ) are distant, much like our forebears who availed themselves of the power of the printing press to bring new enlightenment and ideas to the world, we too are hopeful that our insights and perspectives may prove of value to all those seeking to create a better life for themselves, a better heritage for our children, and a better world for us all.

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