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.