I’m currently reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. I came upon this passage recently:
… a person in charge of a physical asset, such as a machine, may be eager to make a good impression on his superiors. Perhaps the company is in a rapid growth stage and promotions are coming fast. So he produces at optimum levels–no downtime, no maintenance. He runs the machine day and night. The production is phenomenal, costs are down, and profits skyrocket. Within a short time, he’s promoted. Golden eggs!
But suppose you are his successor on the job. You inherit a very sick goose, a machine that, by this time, is rusted and starts to break down. You have to invest heavily in downtime and maintenance. Costs skyrocket; profits nose-dive. And who gets blamed for the loss of golden eggs? You do. Your predecessor liquidated the asset, but the accounting system only reported unit production, costs, and profit.
With the pre- and post-Great Recession economy issues fresh in my mind, thanks to all the campaign ads, this particular passage seemed especially poignaint.
Full source of the quote above: Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Fireside, New York, NY, 1989, p. 57.