No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

…..But if You Paid me More!

by @ 5:17 on July 30, 2008. Filed under Compassionate Lieberals.

In one of my business roles I was a marketing manager.   Part of my responsibility was to develop compensation plans that motivated our sales force to sell the right quantity and mix of products.   It was always a balancing act as I had to be accountable for marketing budgets i.e. I couldn’t just spend anything I wanted, but I still needed to find the right incentive points for our sales force.  

I remember on more than one occasion, talking with a sales director about a compensation plan and being told that the sales reps wouldn’t be able to sell what we wanted them to.   During the course of those discussions, the sales director would usually get around to telling me that if I paid the sales reps more they would perform better.   My typical response was questioning whether the issue was one of motivation i.e. they won’t do it unless they get paid more or one of ability i.e. they “can’t “do it unless they got paid more.   As you can imagine our sharp sales directors quickly saw that their attempt to increase payment had come back to either paint their abilities to manage their teams in a poor light.

I tell you this story because we have some of the same coming from some elected officials in Minnesota as a solution in how to ensure that bridge inspections are done properly.   In the Star and Tribune’s article titled:

DFLers want more frequent bridge inspections

(hey, I didn’t make this a partisan issue, the paper did), Sen. Jim Carlson amongst others, has determined that one of the things that will make bridges safer is to pay the engineers more.

I’ve got to ask Sen. Carlson the same question I asked my sales director….will increasing their pay get the engineers to do better inspections? If so, maybe we have the wrong inspectors or the wrong folks managing the inspectors.

Sen. Carlson and company have some other suggestions.

First, they want to ensure that every bridge in the state is inspected each year. Let me clarify that I’m all for safety. However, no matter how many times you inspect a bridge, stuff happens. In fact, based on what we know today, the 35W bridge collapse wasn’t due to an issue of not being inspected but what was being done with the information from at least some of the inspections along the way.

The NTSB has national standards for bridge inspections. Those standards call for inspections every two years with some being inspected annually and some going as long as four years. The inspection frequency is determined based on utilization, length, age and other factors of the bridge. Doesn’t that seem to make some sense? Think about it, a new bridge that is small and has minor traffic, does it really make sense to inspect those as frequently as a bridge that the 35W bridge that has high traffic, and is known to have problems?

Perhaps the most important paradigm shifting suggestion coming from Sen. Carlson and his supporters is to:

formally include safety in the department’s statutory mission

Wow, that should certainly improve inspections! I wonder what they thought the inspections were about before; to make sure no one had stolen a bridge?

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