Mayor Nagin's Performance Report


Tom Peters once said about managing airlines, “If the tray tables are dirty, they don’t do their engine maintenance.” Lack of attention to detail is not confined to a single block in the org chart. It is usually systemic. And can be historic.


New Orleans

1927 Mississippi Flood

Photo Courtesy of NOAA

US Dept of Commerce

Mayor Nagin’s errors are writ large and small. Let us look at the tiniest of details: spelling. From the Wall Street Journal:

The New Orleans contingency plan…states: “The safe evacuation of threatened populations is one of the principle [sic] reasons for developing a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.” But the plan was apparently ignored.

What concerned Your Humble Business Blogger was that “[sic]” which borders on well deserved sarcasm. Principle; Principal? Whatever.

If a manager can’t spell, should he be entrusted with a city?

During my first days on active duty in the Army, I was flooded with some paperwork and I made a few typos. But we had a Cold War to win. Spelling shouldn’t count.

My boss lost his sense of humor and I was reprimanded, verbally. (But I remember it physically.)

“Son,” the senior officer said, “You need better attention to detail.”

I became acutely aware at age 23 that details were important in the adult world. Especially where a mistake would have my people in body bags.

Something Mayor Nagin never learned.


Thank you (foot)notes:

Excellent analysis at Sailor in the Desert on Tragedy.

See Outside The Beltway and Traffic Jam. Which points us to Master Snitch! and his biting epic poem.

Visit Mudville Gazette on Open Post. Good reading at Banter in Atlanta posting the Katrina’s ripple effect.

Ace reviews chain of command in NO/LA.

Michelle Malkin has quote round up of my people.

Review Managing Product Development at How Much Planning is Enough?

Bad Hair Blog actually says it better.


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1 Response

  1. Mr. Snitch! says:

    It’s becoming apparent that the ‘man in the street’ recognizes that the first line of responsibility was Nagin’s, the second the Governor’s, and that the Feds came somewhere after them and other local organizations (churches, Rotary Clubs, local businesses, etc.). This is the perception that’s most apt to stick because it hews most closely to everyman’s experience. Who is primarily responsible for the care and feeding of our family? If not parents, then relatives, and the neighbors and community, then who? If our child needs shoes, do we call the State Department? Same deal here, it’s “common” sense, and everything else is political posturing and gamesmanship. That’s why, even if by a narrow margin, the posturing falls short.