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United's handling of this event is, yes, disgusting. It is so far outside most people's social norms that the horrified reaction and abundance of scolding is entirely appropriate. But your reaction surprised me. "shocked to find gambling in this establishment " much? United's processes and procedures aren't unusual. And you, of all people, should know that. These managerial practices are what business schools and consulates teach. These methods are amazingly effective at increasing the efficiencies of the organizations to which they are applied. But you know that. These methods have hard to measure side effect, externalities if you will. Those externalities are very profitable. But, you know that too. I have yet to see a meaningful effort on the part of the management elite to address these externalities. And honestly I don't see any incentives are for them to address them. Just to take one example. I think we can assume that United has arranged it so the gate and plane's crew have strong common cause to turn around the plane ASAP. This easy to measure, and crafting the incentives so each member of the team knows that any slacking off will effect the rest of the team is trival. So it is no surprise, and probably part of their training, that any issue that delays the turn around is enqueued until after the the team's task is completed. Kicking exceptions down field so they don't add friction to the main task is standard practice. Structuring things to the team members are entangled in a set of obligations to each other to help assure the main task gets maximum focus is too. Nothing unusual here. You know this, right?
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Aug 2, 2012