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No More Spin

Before you read this be aware that it rapidly degenerates into an anti-corporate (specifically anti-Fonterra) rant (or tirade, if you prefer), so if you don’t appreciate entries written in my more “direct” style I warn you: stop now!

The thing about corporate spin is that almost no one takes it seriously – and that is good. In fact it is bad when people do take it seriously because then when it is found to be just blatant lies (as is almost inevitably true) there is a sense of outrage.

Let’s have a look at Fonterra’s page on “quality” for example. Here are some quotes…

Quote 1: “At Fonterra, quality is everyone’s responsibility. Every step of the way, from our farms to the market, we’re trusted by customers and consumers to bring them only the best.” Really? Are they serious? The only “quality” at Fonterra is the quality (or is that quantity) of their pathetic bureaucrats. And this word “trust”. A bit of irony here in light of the latest developments, don’t you think? They’re just another big, evil corporation intent on extracting maximum profit for minimum effort and accepting minimum responsibility for their disgraceful exploitation of the environment.

Quote 2: “Our reputation for quality is a competitive advantage. It’s an advantage we guard carefully, taking responsibility for our part in maintaining the trust of customers and consumers.” Is that right? Well they seem to have failed rather miserably on that front, I would say. You know what? I’m beginning to think this page may not be 100% accurate!

Quote 3: “We are committed to: Consistently satisfy and surpass customer and consumer expectations. Produce and supply safe quality foods. Fully comply with exporting and importing country requirements. Our Fonterra Quality System ensures that wherever we are located in the world, we have a clear, consistent process to deliver quality products and services to our customers.” Are you laughing yet? Or are you crying?

Quote 4: “The System applies to all Fonterra global operations including Fonterra owned and controlled business and joint ventures where we have management control. Nothing is left to chance.” Nothing is left to change, eh? Is that why a chance discovery by another lab was required to uncover their gross incompetence?

Quote 5: “Our people are critical in the delivery of high quality and safe products. They are our eyes, our ears and our conscience throughout the whole supply chain.” Oh I see, “our people” is it? Would that be the thousand useless bureaucrats sitting in corporate HQ or the useful staff who no longer have a job at Fonterra? And they dare to mention the word “conscience” here? Really? Come on, we all know that big business has no conscience.

Final quote: “Our highly trained team ensures we meet or exceed all the relevant quality, food safety and regulatory requirements.” Yeah, right!

How has this total failure to live up to their ostensible ideals happened? I’ll tell you. This is what almost inevitably happens when a large corporation becomes involved in an industry. They forget about why they are there and the maintenance of the bureaucracy becomes their primary activity. See my blog entry “The Iron Law” from 2013-07-02 for more details.

There’s a simple answer here: break up Fonterra into a series of smaller companies, fire every board member and senior manager and don’t replace most of them (they are all worse than useless), and put exceptionally strong controls on their operations, including controls which stop the dairy farmers themselves from destroying our environment.

This country has been living a lie for years now. We have exchanged the quality of our environment and the fairness of our society for increased profits for corporations. We are not clean, green, and natural. That is just more corporate spin, and no one should take it seriously.

As I finish this entry it suddenly sounds vaguely familiar. Maybe there was another example of this phenomenon? Would it be another large corporation whose web site promised great things but was totally unable to deliver on that promise? Yes, I’m talking about our old friend Talent2 and a very similar problem happened there: incompetent greedy management staff forgetting why they are there and making a total mess of everything. Have a look at “Corporate Newspeak” from 2013-03-21 for details.

It’s bad enough that we allow these corporations to operate in the way they do, but to really add insult to injury you just have to read their corporate spin! Why do they bother? Do they even believe this stuff themselves? Please – no more spin!

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