FUD 101

Is there a name for the FUD technique where you ascribe everything to malice on the part of the largest possible organization or the person at the head of that organization? I’d like to start claiming that it wasn’t just that some poor dumb kid working the drive-through forgot to give me napkins because he was too busy trying to look down the uniform top of the girl working the fryer, it was actually Jim Cantalupo’s personal orders to save money at the expense of my jeans, but I’d like to know what to call that.


Comment by Dave Winer #
2004-02-15 13:15:24

Yes, the CEO of a company is ultimately responsible for what the company does. It’s why the top guy at the BBC just resigned, even though he didn’t have any direct involvement with the bit about Blair and weapons of mass destruction.

As a customer, I expect CEO responsibility, and for the chain of command. For example, I just switched brokerages. When I call in the first recorded message I get is from the CEO telling me that he expects that I will be happy with the serivce I get, and if I am not, this is the number you should call, and I will see it personally. I believe him. I also believe every person at the company that talks to people after they’ve heard that messgae understands that the company thinks the customer is very important to the company.

PS: FUD is an over-used term in this community. It’s a tactic used by very big companies to put a freeze on markets, usually by announcing their plans without announcing any software. Saying the CEO of a company is responsible for the company is not FUD, it’s a fact.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2004-02-15 14:03:12

Well, I think in the original definition, the FUD-slinger generally did announce software, in a vaporish way: ”Does Foo’s Bar scale? Our Baz (coming next August) will.” But I’m afraid I’m of the camp that’s willing to expand jargon beyond the original meaning, rather than being a strict constructionist.

As to total CEO responsibility, you’re certainly right that we do currently expect that sort of thing, of CEOs and coaches, that they be completely and utterly responsible for every single thing that anyone under them does, not just for their actions following their underlings actions, and quite often that they be responsible for our evaluation in hindsight, rather than whether what they did seemed right at the time. I don’t think that’s a particularly reasonable expectation, but it’s certainly a general one, in this country at least. And as an underling, I do like the idea of higher-up heads rolling instead of mine. I just don’t like having the executioner step on my head as he goes over it on his way up.

Comment by Marcus #
2004-02-15 14:28:20

I disagree with your point on the BBC. The former BBC Director General (Greg Dyke) and Chairman (Gavyn Davies) both had direct involvement with the events leading to the Hutton Inquiry. Read the Hutton Report. That’s why they resigned.

I don’t believe either of them should have, though.

Comment by Claire #
2004-02-15 13:31:43

technique where you ascribe everything to malice on the part of the largest possible organization


Comment by pixelkitty #
2004-02-15 14:06:24

It’s called paranoia Phil :)

Comment by Dave Winer #
2004-02-15 14:12:36

Phil, I agree, in general it’s a good idea to try to work things out with the people at the level where the problem is. In a poorly run company even going one level over someone’s head can be dangerous. But in a well-run company it gets you a response, and maybe action.

Another story. I had made a reservation for a trip to California, it included round-trip air fare, hotel and car. When I got to the car counter they said I was a no-show, I was supposed to be there at 9AM (it was 9PM) and they gave my car to someone else. I pointed out that I had bought a package, and it was their problem, my plane was on time, and I’m not leaving without a car (they offered me a chance to pay full price at Avis or Hertz, and they might not have had a car at all). The guy refused, he said I could stay but I wouldn’t get a car. Shortly after that his supervisor came out asked what was going on, and immediately gave me a car, an upgrade an an apology. If I hadn’t been willing to go over his head, I would have been out of luck.

I knew they had a car back there. The guy was probably just tired (so was I) and I was sure the procedure in a case like this was to give me the car and get me out of there. At some point it’s too much trouble to stand your ground, and it’s better to give the guy what he wants.

Comment by Danny #
2004-02-15 15:29:28

Napoleon Syndrome by Proxy? – ”I only deal with other emperors”

Comment by Patrick Taylor #
2004-02-16 05:16:58

you ascribe everything to malice on the part of the largest possible organization or the person at the head of that organization

The C. Montgomery Burns’ Effect?

Excellent! [waggles fingers ominously as Phil’s pants are ruined]

Comment by Charles #
2004-02-17 16:40:20

I generally hear the phrase ”shit flows downhill” in reference to this sort of issue.

2004-02-20 09:57:27

Interesting Things

FUD 101 — blaming the largest possible organisation State of the Arcade industry Dual Display Gaming on Tom’s Hardware. Interested to see if this expands into the handheld devices in a big way (as noted before, some stuff is…

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