Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Chose... Wisely

The big news in Idaho yesterday was that Albertsons, the big grocery chain, has agreed to sell themselves. Their corporate headquarters is here in Boise, employing about 2,500 workers, and people are understandably concerned about how many of these jobs will be lost.

A person with whose thoughts I'm intimately familiar just happened to do a few months of temp work there about a year ago (immediately after this person retired from the Navy), and he has agreed to share his thoughts on the business culture that may have led to this "corporate suicide" exclusively with TSSBP:

Before I left the Navy, I knew I needed to study up on what to expect in the civilian business world. I chose to use the various Dilbert books as my primary source; it turns out this was a wise choice in preparing to work at Albertsons. It was as if the whole organization had forgotten that their core competency was to "provide a clean, friendly shopping experience for which people will be willing to pay a little extra", and replaced it with "execute short-sighted business decisions that may or may not save money, but which can be made to look as though they will save money if you use the right assumptions".

It was ridiculous. As a $12/hour temp, I found myself making a lot of decisions that should have been made at the VP level because I was the only one willing to make a decision. The people who worked there were nice enough, but no one was willing to tell the higher-ups that their plans were idiotic. I'd make up spreadsheets with reasonable estimates of costs, and get told that I had to show "more savings". The only way to do this was make the most outrageous assumptions possible -- I'd point out the inherent flaw in this approach, but they'd take my new numbers and run with them. It was like watching a slow-motion trainwreck...

Coincidentally, I also did temp work at Albertson Corporate HQ after I retired from the Navy. When I got offered the job at the really good company I'm at now, I told Albertsons I was leaving, and they rushed to make me an offer for a permanent position. The work would have been a lot easier (less challenging) and the opportunities for advancement at Albertsons were clearly a lot better -- the people I'd be competing against for promotion weren't exactly engineers, if you get my drift. My gut feeling, though, was that I should take the engineering job with the more dynamic company. I'm so glad now that I did... I really wouldn't want to be looking for another job so soon.

So, if anyone out there is about to retire, and wants advice on which job to accept: go with your instincts. It worked for me.

Going deep...


Anonymous Retired Geezer said...

After retiring as a stagehand in Las Vegas, I moved up to Idaho. One of my first jobs was to do the lighting for a birthday party for one of the Albertson clan. It was held at one of the downtown hotels. I couldn't believe how much money was spent on the gig. They had curtains, lighting and sound equipment sent up from Vegas. There was a magician and other variety acts.
I remember thinking it was a pretty expensive birthday bash.

Retired Geezer

1/25/2006 2:10 AM

Blogger WillyShake said...

Wow. Albertson's (to my mind) is synonymous with Idaho--hard to imagine the place with out it!

1/25/2006 11:35 AM

Blogger WillyShake said...

...oh, and I love the reference to I.J. and Last Crusade!

1/25/2006 11:36 AM

Blogger half said...

First supermarket to stay open 24/7 in TLH, I fell into their meat counter one vaguely remembered 2 a.m. Sunday morn. The 3 stores here are treading water, okay for now but the Publix machine will get them in the end.

1/25/2006 1:39 PM

Blogger ninme said...

Oh willy thank you I've been trying to place that all morning. I think the first person threw me off.

1/25/2006 2:54 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I'm glad someone picked up on the reference -- "Last Crusade" is my favorite Indiana Jones movie. I was planning on saying something about it in the post, but it was getting late...

1/25/2006 5:55 PM


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