Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dear Business Leaders, Please Make up your Zarking Minds!

Another installment in a series.  This one has been simmering for a while, but I decided to finally post in response to this little tidbit of hamster-nard-sucking wankery.

Dear Business Leaders,

            I wonder if I might have a moment of your time to try to straighten out an issue that has been troubling me.  I do apologize for presuming on your time like this, given that I’m not going to fork over any money for this consultation.  I hear you when you say how competitive you are. How money talks and bullshit walks, or however that charming catchphrase goes.  How there’s no free ride.  So it is with considerable deference that I approach with my humble request that you Please make up your Zarking minds!  Is the customer always right or not?
            I keep hearing about the importance of the business model.  And I sort of get it.  I took a little economics back in high school (and no, not of the home variety).  In a world of limited resources, there is no free ride.  Ultimately, we all have to convince others to pay for our wares, and if nobody is willing to pay, perhaps we should switch to doing something else.  OK, that seems pretty reasonable.  I’m a little uncomfortable about it, but I can see that maybe the students are customers.  Sort of.  If I hold my head to one side and kindof half close one eye.  I can at least meet you part way, and recognize that the one’s I’m spending all this time in the classroom for is the students.  So if they pay tuition, then that sortof makes them customers.
            So the customers are always right, huh?  Well then what in the name of the Arkelseizure's nose hairs are they doing in the classroom?  I mean, why would anybody pony up big tuition bucks if they are always right?  Are they insane?  No, that can’t be it, because then they wouldn’t be always right, and therefore, couldn’t possibly be customers.  So what gives?
            And while I’ve got your attention, here’s another one that troubles me.  See, every time I turn around one of you business leaders is going off about how colleges aren’t doing a good enough job with the students (er… customers, sorry).  How graduates don’t have the skilz they need to win the brave new future.  How most of them struggle to find their own blastopores with both hands and a flashlight. 
Seriously?  Well, no shit, Sherlock.  We coulda told you that little bit of info fer free.  After four years of prying open young minds and attempting to force feed them just a soupcon of analytical skill, we have a pretty good idea of their limited rectal detection capabilities.  But they’re the damn customers, so in the end, we settle for basic literacy and give em what they paid for – a piece of paper suitable for framing.
And what’s it to you anyway?  Here’s a newsflash Rockefeller – You’re not the customer.  See, I remember this one little tidbit from my high school economics course, and it’s this: The customer is the one paying the bill.  By definition.  And that is most assuredly not you.  You aren’t paying the universities.  You aren’t paying the students.  You’ve got no skin in the game.  You’re just some schmuck kibitzing on the sidelines.  Raving on like some grumpy old man about how nobody has any standards these days, and you just can’t get good help anymore.
            So if the customer is always right, then you need to either pay the goddamned freight or Shut the Fuck Up.  We might even find common cause here (gadzooks!).  I mean, you’re all about standards, and how the market forces shit to get real.  We’re all about standards too – how ‘their’, ‘there’ and ‘they’re’ really are different.  So I’d like to take this chance to reach across the divide and invite you to join with proffies.  Get involved in a better college system.  There’s all kinds of ways to help. 
You could forego some of those generous tax breaks you’re always begging for and lobby for the funds to be directed towards public universities….  No? 
Ok then why don’t you sponsor students, and offer scholarships to…. 
OK, OK, how about this - why not start a program where you sign up students to train for your openings, with the promise of hiring them on successful gradua… All right, All right, no need to get testy!
Hell, why not take matters into your own hands and offer on the job training, tailored to the specific needs you have for your own personnel?  You could...  wait, what’s so funny?
All right then, YOU think of something.  Just make up your damn minds.  Coz if you want to piss and moan about the students coming out of universities, you’ll have to put up or shut up.  After all, the customer is always right.

I remain etc.,

Rosencrantz A. Guildenstern
Department of Hamster Husbandry
University of Tuktoyaktuk


  1. Actually, it's easy to understand: this guy isn't an actual business person, involved in the sale of something of actual value, such as Rockefeller was with oil. This is that clown at Acton, which even people in business schools will recognize is a diploma mill.

  2. Good point about employers having little to no skin in the game at this point. They've got some habits left over from the time when their tax dollars actually did fund "state-funded" universities (and/or from when they actually paid taxes at a rate equal or greater to the one paid by the customer/students). I'd be happy (well, relatively happy) to return to the earlier state of things, but they'd need to pony up.

    And I'm still laughing at "what in the name of the Arkelseizure's nose hairs" (I had to google that one, and yes, it's shocking that I'm not more familiar with the details of the classic work of literature from which it came).

  3. Yeah, this guy is a douchebag. The guy at my conference was pretty clueless about our troubles in education, but not a first class douchebag like the Acton asshole.

    It was funny. At another part of the conference, we were supposed to rank the importance of different items pertaining to strategic goals. One of them was "improving customer service" and lots of tables in the room ranked that one pretty high. Except two tables, which ranked it at bottom, to the shock of the powers that be in the room.

    Me, being the tenured bitch that I am, stood up to explain (we were asked to was funny, cuz the votes were entered anonymously, so we could have just sat around and denied being "the ones"). I said listen, these students are crippled by their expectations of customer service. As far as faculty are concerned, we have to lower their customer service expectations, and not raise their customer service experiences at our college. The moderator was could tell the....what, the atmosphere of the room was not on my side. Did I say it wrong? How could this be confusing to anyone? Why don't these people get it?

  4. Also, this is seriously hilarious stuff! I feel honored to have been a small part of another brilliant R & G post!

    "You’re just some schmuck kibitzing on the sidelines. Raving on like some grumpy old man about how nobody has any standards these days, and you just can’t get good help anymore." I love it!

  5. Those of us in the world of community colleges find that businesses are indeed our customers. They pay taxes to our community college district just like every other property owner. They contract with us to teach their employees, sometimes in credit classes, sometimes in CEUs where the proffie gets paid peanuts for putting together a course in why one shouldn't pick one's nose in a business meeting.

    In most cases, it's our students who have the least likely claim to be customers. Over half of them get Pell Grants, so they have no skin in the game. Almost 40% also get loans (there is some overlap between the two), so they have at least a marginal investment, but to them the payback time is far, far in the future, and that shiny new phone is beckoning to them now. Even the students who do actually pay tuition have only a tiny stake as most of the funds come from taxes. The Great Southern State in which I teach ought to be our biggest "customer," but over the years its payments have declined well below what our legislature supposedly requires the state to pay. If things keep going the way they are, we will have almost no state funds, yet the state will keep mandating more new SLOs, more progression, more retention, and more completion to keep our accreditation and the tiny pool of money they assist us with.


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