watch for fallen rocks,
falling rock and fallen rock
road signs on the side
After a recent road trip through the Carolina’s, the Virginia’s and Ohio, I have to ask, “Does the Department of Transportation have grammarians?”
Do we watch for rocks that are falling or have fallen or rocks that are maybe falling or maybe going to fall?
Remember Plu Perfect?
If you don’t then … SHAME ON YOU.
Alongside the perfect and imperfect tenses, a further past tense exists in Latin.
This is called the pluperfect tense.
The pluperfect tense (or past perfect in English) is used to describe finished actions that have been completed at a definite point in time in the past.
It is easiest to understand it as a past ‘past’ action.
Or maybe what we need is future past tense?
Watch out for rocks that might will fall?
I marvel at the ways this seemingly simple warning can be written.
Also, seemingly, there should be an accepted way to say this clearly and concisely that satisfies all customers.
Why are there so many different versions?
Compare these simple message signs to other simple messages, like a mission statement.
Having sat in on too many to count ‘mission statment’ meetings, the wordsmithing necessary to say what a company will do is mind boggling, overwhelming and in reality, just plain silly.
I once was part of a committee that was charged with writing a company mission statement that focused on using the word ‘truth’.
I was able to push the discussion to the nature of truth until the committee chair called for Tylenol.
The end results of the meetings was that:
- We changed the wording to use INTEGRITY instead of truth.
- I was excused from any further participation in team mission statement writing.
This is known as a win-win.
Thinking about corporate mission statements, I am reminded of one of my favorite stories of American Big Business.
It is a tale of two people.
The 1st person in our story is Hank the Deuce otherwise known as Henry Ford II who had to take over the Ford Motor Company when it was decided Henry I or Henry Ford (yes that Henry Ford) had seen better days and needed to be retired (gone ga-ga in the words of one).
While folks knew Hank the Deuce may not have been the brightest bulb in the box, he was more aware of reality than his Grandpa.
AND while maybe not too smart, Hank was smart enough to know he wasn’t smart enough which is either the exception to OR proves the John Cleese rule on intelligence.
The other person in our story is a smart guy named Charles B. “Tex” Thornton.
Tex was smart.
Tex knew he was smart.
Tex knew a lot of smart guys who also knew they were smart.
They called themselves the Whiz Kids.
Other people called them the Whiz Kids.
They had all worked together during World War 2 in something called the US Army Air Force Statistical Control.
Their job was a to come up with a way to assess, mathematically, damage caused to the German war effort by the allies dropping all sort of bombs on it.
The goal was to show how effective mass bombing was.
Kind of a precursor to the label taped on the binder in Dr. Strangelove that was titled, “World Targets in Megadeaths.”
Spoiler alert, since the US Army was paying these guys can you guess what the reports proved?
So Tex and his Whiz Kids gather data and interview leading German industrialists about the impact of allied bombing.
Their interviews were along the lines of, “Hey Mr, Ex Nazi now in Prison. We want to know how much Allied bombing messed up the German war effort and contributed to ending the war.”
And Mr. Ex Nazi now in Prison, who hoped to become Mr. Ex Nazi out of jail would say, “Allied bombing really messed the German war effort and contributed to ending the war!”
Tax and the Whiz Kids took the data and interview results and drew up really cool mutli color pie charts and graphs, ALL PRE POWER POINT, and delivered these incredible briefings that proved Allied bombing really messed up the German war effort and contributed to ending the war!
I digress but I am sure you remember that Captain Jimmy Stewart of Wonderful Life Fame was in the Air Force and stationed in England during World War 2.
For a time, Capt. Stewart was the press briefing officer of the 8th Air Force.
Sgt. Walter Matthau said he loved to sneak into those briefings to watch Jimmy Stewart be Jimmy Stewart.
ANYWAY, Tex and the Whiz Kids were reporting how effective the Allied Bombing was when along came another Army Air Force group that showed how Allied bombing could really mess anyone’s war effort and contribute to ending the war with just one bomb and that more or less put Tex and Whiz Kids out of job.
So Tex says to the Whiz Kids we are smart and eveyone knows we are smart so lets stay together as group and I will find us a gig where someone dumb needs someone else to be smart for them.
You know, kinda like Jake and Elwood keeping the band together.
And so Hank the Deuce (remember how he knew he wasn’t smart) finds Tex and the Whiz Kids and Hank decides that these are just the guys to save Ford Motor Company and a deal is made.
Tex and the Whiz Kids move to Detroit and go to work for Hank the Deuce.
Some things they found out were the proverbial low hanging fruit such as the fact that when the price of a car was set in 1947, no one working for Ford had any idea how much it cost to produce the car.
After a cost analysis, Tex and the Whiz Kids showed that for every 1947 Ford the company sold, they lost money.
Then Tex and Whiz Kids really got into the business.
They made the effort to learn and understand every aspect of the car business.
They tested, timed and priced out every part of the manufacture of the car.
They mastered the parts pipeline.
They studied the sales and dealership programs and policies.
After six months, their study was complete.
A new plan was devised by the worlds smartest men.
A big rollout of the plan was prepared with all the pie charts and graphs.
The press was invited.
The big day came and in a packed auditorium, curtains were drawn back to reveal the new plan.
It said …
Watch for fallen rocks.
Oh gee whiz.
And don’t me started about when a bridge may or may not freeze before the road or roadbed.