Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Deepwater Horizon - what Obama should understand

I didn't think I had much to say about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. My one insight was that Google could, as a public service, assemble a team to deploy disaster-specific search engines. Google librarians and researchers are well suited to continuously enhance a custom search engine that will facilitate research and discovery at the time of catastrophe. These future disaster search tools would be paired with custom Google Maps services.

I'm surprised Google hasn't done this yet. I hope they'll do it for all our many disasters to come.

That was my one insight -- until tonight. Now I have something to say to my (much appreciated) President.

I got the idea when Emily compared my personal stories of corporate euphemisms to BP's spin. In a forehead smacking moment I realized BP is probably no more or less clever than the vast publicly traded company I work for. That means that Obama's team is dealing with EVPs -- people whose great skill is the ability to thrive in the bowels of a typically dysfunctional publicly traded company. They can tell a good story, but they really don't know what's going on and they don't know they don't know.

There are likely engineers in BP who do know what's going on, but they've been locked away in dark rooms and surrounded by corporate security. They'll never be allowed contact with the outside world. Most of them aren't comfortable in that role anyway.

Too bad. Team Obama has to track these people down. They won't be VPs or EVPs. They're probably not even managers. They're individual contributors who've been at BP for ten years or more. They know what's going on. It might take the NSA and the CIA to track these people down, but it has to be done. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the bowels of BP. In softly lit rooms they can be slipped a few million dollars -- since once they talk they'll never work in the industry again. Then ply them with beer until they open up.

Take notes.

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