Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rand: Executive Dialogue

Rand's dialogue is quite wordy, so I had to solve the problem of putting all of it, or most of it, into balloons. Since you already know the two characters who are speaking, I can do an all-dialogue page.

I know nothing about what goes on in the private offices of Big Business, or Big Transportation. Rand's story assumes that powerful individuals make decisions which determine what the corporation or company does. I have assumed that a corporation is more like a swarm of flying creatures that moves according to some collective impulses, and will turn or change shape only when some impetus from outside it forces it to. Interestingly, Rand in ATLAS never mentions the retail business. The stores she mentions are single-family, small places, never a big chain or a grand department store, even though they certainly existed during her career. She's interested only in the "smokestack industries." I don't think any industrialists are reading this blog, though.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I'm not an industrialist, but I do work for a big "military industrial complex" defense contractor now (six months on the job).

I don't think Rand's picture or your picture is quite right. Business decisions are made in *meetings*. Few individuals have the confidence to decide something important on all their own. (It's sort of like the bystander effect -- nobody wants to be the only one to make a move).

Somebody gives a powerpoint presentation of selected data from the real world and usually suggests "well, I think we should do this, but it's not my decision..." Everybody else, depending on the data, their own experience, and how much they like or dislike powerpoint guy decides to agree or disagree. Eventually the highest ranking person in the room picks a side (usually going with the majority opinion in the room, unless he really doesn't like powerpoint guy). Then he either says "you guys do this this and this" -- a list of "action items" or, if it's something not in his power to order, says "I'll escalate it." Escalating it means calling another meeting with his boss and other high ranking people. At this meeting, he becomes powerpoint guy. And so on until someone with the authority to order the necessary actions (spend your time on this, hire that person, buy this capital equipment, re-negotiate this contract) has participated in a meeting.

It's not democracy but it's not the cult of the individual either. It's just -- primate behavior, I think. Chimpanzee troops with their alpha males probably work more or less the same way, except with less Power Point.)