The Peter Principle Applied

“in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

………………. Dr. Laurence Peter, 1969.

The fundamental point of the Peter Principle is that, within an organization, usually a corporation, an individual will eventually rise, through promotion, to a point beyond his or her capabilities, hence their “level of incompetence.”

Having worked in the corporate world for over thirty years, I saw many examples of the Peter Principle applied. Many “good” employees saw their careers stalled or even destroyed when they were promoted beyond their capabilities.

What we have seen in the past month and a half goes beyond the Peter Principle in reference to a single employee to the Principle applied to a entire corporation.

And that corporation is BP.

This amalgamation of morons, idiots, criminals, thieves, liars, spineless charlatans and clueless flunkies is responsible for the deaths of eleven workers and the destruction of a good portion of the Gulf of Mexico and it’s attendant industries.

And the destruction continues and BP seems to be without a semblance of knowledge as to what to do about it.

“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. – Murphy’s Law.

As a business person often charged with large-scale projects, I always kept this “fact” in the back of my mind, and planned contingencies as a response. In other words, I had a back up plan.

Well, here is a question that should have been asked of BP, before the fact:

“If you are drilling an exploratory well a mile under the surface of the Gulf, what is your “back up plan” should your single line of defense against a leak fail?”

As we all know now, the answer is nothing. And worst of all, it continues, a month and a half later, to be nothing, despite the optimistic reports from BP that this or that fix may, could, might stop the leak.

Now, they are trying a new approach – one that could well exacerbate the problem, rather than stop the flow of oil.

I am not encouraged.

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under The Environment, Uncategorized

18 responses to “The Peter Principle Applied

  1. Many peters have no principals…..

  2. indypendent

    The BP company could only do as much as the federal regulators would let them get by with so there needs to be a full investigation into who allowed this company to drill that oil well without a backup plan and without requiring the installation of that safety valve (this was reported within the first few days of the explosion).

    And what did Bush and Cheney know and when did they know it?

    Hey, George is on Facebook now – let’s go ask him!

  3. WSClark

    “BP chief executive Tony Hayward is apologizing for saying “I’d like my life back” to reporters over the weekend.”

    Well, there are eleven unrecovered bodies in the Gulf. Their families would like to have the lives of those men back.

  4. tosmarttobegop

    Some times it get to me, I listen to comments and talk and see total ignorance of the subject.
    My dad once told me, “If you can not say something intelligent about something… Don’t say something stupid just to be saying something!”.

    A mile down, the Navy does not have a sub that will go that deep.
    The deepest diving suit only allows for about 2,500 feet.
    The pressures at 5, 000 feet is great and would crush anything that is not build to withstand it.
    Of the three major Oceanographic institutes here in the United States only two have a sub that will go that deep.

    One Politician yesterday was upset because the military had not been called in to handle the spill.
    Not because he thought they had the equipment but because they have the command and control structure to
    Organize such a mission. Now how effective would it be to organize a bunch of people that do not have the knowledge or technology to do anything? And that is actually the problem we just do not have what is needed to handle it or how to correct it.

    Want a foretelling of what it would be like if a meteor was coming to destroy the earth?
    This is how that would be!

    • WSClark

      BP doesn’t have a sub that can handle the job, but James Cameron (Titanic) does. BP turned down his offer to help.

      And Cameron’s deep sea sub a manned vessel, not an unmanned robot.

  5. indypendent

    Those same politicians asking why Obama and the federal government have not done more would be the same snake showing their other face if Obama had rushed in the first day and taken command of the situation away from a private enterprise corporation.

    We’ve heard it before – Obama is a dictator and wants to control everything.

    But now these same snakes want Obama to take over a corporation? Where are their core values? Where is that belief that once a stand is taken to never back down? Wasn’t that why these snakes loved George W. so much – because he would never acknowledge he had done something wrong or changed his mind?

  6. wicked

    Philippe Cousteau Jr. (yes, grandson of…) was one of Bill Maher’s guests on Friday night.

  7. indypendent

    My main question is – if this oil rig is so deep that not even most subs can go that far down – then why the hell was the rig even allowed to be built and without all the bells and whistles to prevent a disaster such as we are seeing?

    Are rampant greed and toothless regulations the best guidelines to have when drilling 5,000 feet into the ocean?

    But yet, Republicans are still banging the drum for getting rid of regulations because that government is so evil. From what I’ve seen, any corporation that causes this much tragedy is not exactly good.

  8. I’ve heard (not verified) that the Russians have dealt with this kind of spill by torpedoing or bombing the leak site to get it to cave in on itself.

    Again, not verified, but it might be interesting to see a US Navy sub swim in and put this well out of our misery.

    • WSClark

      The Russians, on five occasions between ’61 and ’82 used underground nuclear explosions to attempt to seal a well by melting the rock around the well. It worked four times, but only on gas wells.

      Using nukes on this spill would be a violation of a number of treaties and would be extremely difficult to attempt and not likely to be successful.

      At this point, the relief well – two plus months away – looks like the best hope.

  9. My oil and gas colleague (who has been correct on this mess from the beginning as to the efforts of BP to stop the leak) says that there is only one way to get it stopped, which is the drilling of relief wells. As to the bombing the site, it’s his opinion that this type of action would not work, and would most likely exacerbate the situation.

  10. WSClark

    “Why were the relief wells not done first?”

    Before the fact? Not required under US licensing. They are under Canadian and European licensing, but not in “industry friendly” America.

  11. WSClark

    “Does anyone honestly think much will change in the aftermath of this disaster?”

    I imagine that after this, the oil companies with agree to a requirement for relief wells, something that they have opposed as unnecessary up until now.

    • indypendent

      But I just read on Huffington Post website that these oil companies are still strategizing for ways to fight any new regulations.

      I guess we shall see what happens, huh?