Thursday, February 24, 2005

Idea Men and How I Learned to Not Love Them

Idea people. I dislike them. These are people who have lots of ideas, many of them absolutely wonderful, yet they can’t seem to take on the “fix” for the very problem their idea addresses. I really learned to dislike one in particular, a Master Chief Petty Officer (the highest ranking enlisted rank in the Navy (or Coast Guard)), because he’d wander about all day, thinking up great ideas, then he’d nonchalantly wander into CDR Pat Gruase’s office (my division head at a major shore command) and lay them out. Here’s what got under my skin: CDR Grause would assign these idea to the Lieutenants that worked for him (I was one, of course). All of us has shops to run, involving training crews from the ships, or replacements, so our schedule was fixed at an upper level for when the classes met. Given that, it was hard to do “extra,” regardless of the merits. In the meantime, the Master Chief wandered about, in search of other problems to fix. By the way, big problems we fixed, because that was the right thing to do, but the Master Chief wasn’t looking for big stuff. After that lead in, I have to honestly say Master Chief Flack had a degree of honor in his “idea” making. I say this in contrast to the society of today in the political world. Today, we have people who escaped being taught, or played hooky the day it was discussed in class, the concept and skills for a valuable skill: Problem Solving. Take for example the counter-battery fire to the opening salvos of President Bush’s State of The Union Address regarding the reform of Social Security. We’re barely out of the starting blocks, and before the evening was over, the Democratic Congress members had done something not done before: They booed the President in front of the World, and sat like spoiled little school children who were told they couldn’t have a cookie after school. Yes, that’s the sort of adult leadership I’d like making long term decisions for me. Forget that President Clinton proposed changes in one of his addresses, and he got a round of applause (from both sides of the isle). Now, President Bush does know about "problem solving." He’s demonstrated it. Not only that, he knows that there is a time you ask others to join in the planning, knowing you aren’t smart enough to do it yourself. Guess what? The "other side" can’t even muster up the guts to even be "idea people." They say it won’t work, and I have yet to hear how they would solve the problem, even if the plan is pretty sketchy at the beginning. Things in this country would sure get done sooner and better, if was just saw a problem and rolled up our sleeves, mental and physical, and got to work planning and carrying out a solution. In the meantime, for anyone who figures as part of humankind that they have no responsibility to do this, I say (SU)3!

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