Author, advertising and
publishing consultant, former
editor of Chicago and other
magazines, former creative
director of Campbell-Ewald and
other advertising agencies. For
more information, click here. Or
see Who's Who in America or
Consulting editor, historian, poet
and author of several books. For
more information, click here or
BLOGS and GLOBS: I have
been writing a blog since 1966,
only I didn't know it. In those
days, it came out in the form of a
newsletter on paper. Remember
paper? It never got lost in
cyberspace, although if it got wet
enough blog turned into glob. I
called it The Uncommentator,
and tried to make it amusing. To
read some of my favorites, see
Recent Books by the Frisbies.
FPFUF: ANOTHER REASON THINGS GO WRONG
January, 2008–Newtonian physics were superseded by Einstein’s
discovery of relativity. Similar progress has occurred in the
understanding of human behavior. Murphy’s Law noted that if anything
can possibly go wrong it will. The Peter Principle reminded us that people
in large organizations who get promoted sooner or later rise above their
level of competence and proceed to spread dysfunction like a virus.
People are lulled into a sense of security because over time most of us
find auto mechanics, appliance repair technicians, dry cleaners and
other reliable service providers who do good work. You eat in favorite
restaurants without getting food poisoning. The mail gets delivered, most
of the time.
But horror stories abound. Surgery patients are left with sponges inside.
The quick-print store loses the whole job including the only copy of the
original. You keep getting dunned for bills you already paid.
One explanation is that in addition to the mistakes everyone makes from
time to time, there is the carelessness of a cadre of incompetents who
exist in every organization. It doesn’t do any good to fire them because
they’ll only be replaced by more of the incompetents who infest the
Consultation with experienced colleagues has identified the chance of
something going amiss when you deal with a large organization at
between 10 and 20 percent. So we have taken the average and named
this the Fifteen Percent F*** Up Factor (FPFUF).
You can use FPFUF in practical ways. I recall an example from several
years ago. I was waiting for a red light to change to green when a
distracted driver slammed into the rear end of my VW Beetle. That
destroyed my engine, so my car was totaled.
The other driver’s off-brand insurance company adamantly refused to
settle for a fair figure. I suspected they weren’t hiring many
valedictorians, so I resubmitted my claim for a more reasonable amount.
The second time it sailed past some dull-eyed clerk, and justice
But when you set out to depend on FPFUF, you have to consider the
possible downside. It’s probably not a good idea to try FPFUF with the
Internal Revenue Service.