Just one more thing about productivity

I was re-reading the productivity post and something hit me as a wasteful spending of labor – FOD walkdown. Specifically, why do the officers feel obligated or are required to attend?

Exactly what does the navy value in its officers? How do those values compare to successful civilian business managers? I did a cursory search for “best manager traits” and several common descriptors emerged. Creative, intuitive, knowledgeable, credible, versatile, committed, leadership, team player, efficient… You get the idea.

I’m kinda pissed that those qualities aren’t outwardly desired by the Navy, as evidenced by our performance evaluation system (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/files/fp_uploaded_documents/Falk-Rogers%20PAE%2003-11%20vF.pdf – its a good read). In regards to productivity, however, nothing pisses me off more than FOD walkdown.

Why are officer’s encouraged (or in some cases, required) to attend FOD walkdown? Why would you willingly task your managers (the ones that are supposed to have all those qualities listed above) with 30 minutes of mind numbing walking and picking up debris? Here are a couple of common arguments:

  • When the officer’s are doing FOD walkdown, it inspires the junior enlisted because they see us doing what they do.
  • If junior enlisted see that you can take the time out of your day to pick up FOD, they’ll know that its important.

I think those are the most commonly accepted arguments. But I would counter that our presence there is largely transparent. When the skipper’s out there picking up FOD, no one is thinking “oh man the skipper’s out here, it must be important to pick up FOD.” I believe that people say, “oh look the skipper’s here so that I can’t complain about FOD walkdown because someone will just say, ‘hey the skipper does it too.‘”

So anyways, I think the reason we really have to be at FOD walkdown is that if we’re demanding a large group of people do something menial, it’s much easier on our consciences if we do it also. Junior enlisted also clean the shitters but we don’t see officer’s stepping in to help scrub. Call me a prick but those are the ropes for the junior enlisted. That’s their unfortunate station in life based upon the decisions they made and the opportunities they’ve been afforded.

Yes – everyone can spare 30 minutes during their day for FOD walkdown. But that 30 minutes can be better spent elsewhere. We’re supposed to be leaders right? We should spend that 30 minutes engaging our sailors. Making them laugh. Inspiring them the right way – not picking up rocks alongside them. They know it sucks. You know it sucks. FOD walkdown sucks.

So recently this blog’s been getting a lot of hits. I don’t quite know what sparked the renewed interest, but its getting around. I’m hoping that this will popularize some necessary changes and that those changes will come to fruition through sheer volume of people “on the same page.”

Before we reach VP Nirvana, however, I’d really appreciate any feedback – preferable both constructive and humorous, but any conversation generated would be good. I think.


  1. #1 by Haywood on 23August2011 - 8:45 am

    Put your name on it that will start discussion

  2. #2 by Lord Prince Humphrey McPoopenstein IV, D.D.S. on 24August2011 - 11:32 pm

    Haywood, putting a name to this would entirely defeat the purpose you rtard. Anonymity is the cornerstone of a subversive movement which seems to be the author’s goal. I hate fod walkdown too, but I think it an inexorable necessity. Without it, mounds of earplugs, safety wire, and pebbles would pile up. I do think, however, that you could achieve a 99% similarity to the FOD prevention program we have now by doing it once every 2 weeks, instead of 5 fucking days a week (and thats a 900% manhour cost reduction for those needing a fitrep bullet). I mean really, you’re lucky to pick up one piece of FOD, and its probably bird shit, and now you got bird shit on your hand and your day is ruined. That’s no way to start your morning.


    Lord Prince Humphrey McPoopenstein IV, D.D.S. (and that’s how you craft a fake name Haywood – have some originality)

  3. #3 by Rg9 on 25August2011 - 5:29 am

    Your website has been passed around our wardroom.

    I’ve only read this post and I think 95% of JOs (at least), including myself, are with you. The problem is that the 5% “drink the coolaid” and regurgitate those arguments (5% of JOs and 100% of O-4s) and it’s seen as petty, selfish, arrogant, etc. to disagree with the arguments to attend. And most COs/XOs won’t change the expectation because they don’t want to be the only VP front office to do so. So we end up with a group-think project that needlessly wastes man hours.

    Anyway, thanks for your blog. I’ll be checking again.

  4. #4 by FML on 27August2011 - 2:19 am

    We all can agree that the idea of a FOD walk down was probably one born with only the best of intentions and it still might have it’s place somewhere in jetville. To us it’s only purpose is to show our grease monkeys that we appreciate all of their hard work so much that we are willing to clean up after them. Realizing the dumbnicity of it all our command has taken steps to ease our pain. First, we schedule our morning events so fucking early they are on the schedule of the day prior. This clears a path for all and helps us to keep abreast of one another without the need for any bullhorn.
    B. Say no, but yes, we have even been allowed to talk. I can now warn the zombie next to me about the bird poop he is about to finger.
    3. (kinda goes with A.) Launching the morning wave we have reduced the workload by using prop wash to push the debris off the ramp. Tip…. We have to start engines in normal rpm.
    Last and probably least we only do them on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The other three days are reserved for X counts, tracker trackers and our weekly intel enema. Hope this helps those of you in need.

  5. #5 by Haywood on 27August2011 - 12:57 pm

    Why don’t we just buy a Zamboni like fod sweeper machine like the air force uses.

  6. #6 by Baron Von Schitzengiggles on 7September2011 - 11:36 am

    “Why don’t we just buy a Zamboni”

    2 Reasons:

    #1 You get paid the same no matter what you’re doing for the 24 hours in your day, no hourly wage, no overtime. So, you are essentially free labor. The Zamboni costs money (a quick googlepedia search of the interwebs says up to $200,000 for a large area Zamboni). We can’t even afford to buy printer cartridges, why the F would we pay $200K for something we can have you do for nothing? Although, we do actually have a small zamboni that we use on the hangar decks but only when the hangar is cleared out, and that’s more to clean up oil spills etc.

    #2 Wouldn’t be able to drive the Zamboni into the safety diamond so you would still have to sweep under the aircraft anyway.

    What’s the big f-in deal anyway, I mean, what are you doing that you’re so busy at 7am that you can’t go for a little walk on the flight line. Is it beneath your abilities or your station in life to walk a quarter mile and pick up some trash? Yes, even if it somehow, magically ended up in a T-56 during starts, it probably would just disintegrate but so what? Usually when the call for FOD walkdown comes, I’m just sitting around in the wardroom bullshitting with the rest of the JO’s about the game last night or how ricockulous the latest GMT is. I don’t do it for the enlisted, I don’t do it for the health of the airplanes, I do it because I’m not doing anything else, I’m usually bored, and I know I’ll still get all my ground job responsibilities, collateral duties and everything else done that I need to do before lunch and still make my 1515 T-time or happy hour at the O’Club.

    Will doing away with FOD walkdown for Officers really make the Navy a better place, or make us a more effective fighting force?


  7. #7 by VPISCOOLERTHANEVERYTHINGIHAVEEVERKNOWN on 15September2011 - 2:25 am


    Here is your answer from the post:

    Yes – everyone can spare 30 minutes during their day for FOD walkdown. But that 30 minutes can be better spent elsewhere. We’re supposed to be leaders right? We should spend that 30 minutes engaging our sailors. Making them laugh. Inspiring them the right way – not picking up rocks alongside them.

    If everyone’s always free at 7am, then use them to do more useful things. Or how about this one: let non-shift-work personnel spend a little more time with their families… crazy, I know, but 13 hour flight days with ever-changing sleep schedules when not deployed tend to prevent family time.

  8. #8 by Mannfred ScatWagon, Attorney At Law on 12July2015 - 12:33 pm

    I’m usually doing something way more important at 7 AM, and it’s called sleeping. Maintenance works eight hour shifts, and believe it or not, FOD walkdown occurs during those shifts. Can you imagine working out in the real world a normal 40-hour workweek, but you get paid to just walk around a half-hour per day (not to mention smoke breaks, lunch, etc.)? I would be elated to be such a financial burden.

    Alas, the VP community has this thing called a “P-3”. Rather than show up for your 9 to 5, do some paperwork and read some emails, you suddenly find yourself on the flight schedule coming in a 4 o’clock in the morning to “maintain readiness”. After a grueling brief, miserable preflight, boring flight, and exhausting postflight, you find that the world has continued to move without you: six missed calls/texts from various members of your command, an inbox full of new trackers, and the occasional O-4 drive-by tasking. Do you get to look at your watch and say, “Eh, night-shift is coming in soon, I’ll just pass it on to the next guy”? No, you still have to do it (although this mindset is why every job turnover you’ve ever done has included a mountain of incomplete work).

    So you do your due-diligence at the expense of your health and welfare, and go home. Just when you start to relax, the schedule for tomorrow is finally released… and you’re flying again. Or a sim, or you’re hosting the JMSDF’s pet Godzilla. Lather, rinse and repeat for three plus years.

    I don’t get paid overtime, and I refuse to do someone else’s work, especially if they’re paid to do it.

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