Letters to the Power Plant #76 — Diversity at Dell

After I left the power plant and went to work for Dell on August 20, 2001, I wrote letters back to my friends at the plant letting them know how things were going.  This is the seventy sixth letter I wrote.  Keep in mind that at the time when I originally penned this letter I didn’t intend on it being posted online.

6/06/03 – Diversity at Dell

Dear Sooner Plantians,

I understand the remorse all of you are going through with the recent retirements that have taken place.  I was told that Sonny Kendrick’s last day was last Friday and that Walt Oswalt retired some time ago.  —  I had been wondering what that hint of apathy was in the recent e-mails that I had received from Sooner lately.

Note to reader:  To learn more about Sonny Kendrick see the post Singing Along with Sonny Kendrick.

To learn more about Walt Oswalt read the post Power Plant Trip Leads to a Game of Frogger.

I know now that it was just the shock of losing two such highly motivating individuals from the ranks of Superstars that make Sooner Plant the most efficient power plant in the country (it still is the most efficient plant in the country isn’t it?).  There has been such a broad mixture of individuals at Sooner that have led to its success that when these individuals leave, it has such an impact on the way the plant runs that it is noticeable all the way down here.

Dell is very serious about creating an environment of Diversity because they see the benefits of having a highly diverse workforce.  They have a whole bunch of categories that people can be broken down to show what a diverse workforce includes.  There are some categories that are obvious such as Age, Gender, Language, Ethnicity, and Race.  Then there are some that you don’t normally think about like:  Smoker/NonSmoker, Religious Beliefs, Education, Work Background, Military Experience, Income, Marital Status, Communication Style, etc.

There is one category of diversity that they are missing and I have always thought that it was an important one.  I have been trying to convince them that by ignoring this range of diversity and actually trying to eliminate it, Dell has been missing an opportunity to reap the benefits from it.  That is the category of:  “Hard-Working vs Laziness”.

Dell has been trying to weed out those people that are deemed, “Lazy” and keep those that are “Hard-Working”.  By doing this, they are creating a workforce that is less diverse and less efficient.  —  “Why?” you might ask.  —  Well.  From my experience at Sooner Plant, we had a lot of hard working people, and we had a few who were kind of lazy (or people categorized them as such).   I noticed something over the years, especially when I had worked around the “lazy” people for a while, (or actually took on that role on a ‘few’ occasions), that those “so-called” lazy people were actually the ones that came up with an easier or better way to do things.

Sure the “Hard-working” people didn’t mind slaving away doing it the same way for 35 years!!  But the lazy ones had a whole shelf full of special tools and techniques for making the work a lot easier.  They were the ones that were constantly looking for ways to get out of work.

Yes.  It’s true that some would work harder trying to get out of work than the work actually was, but that was pretty rare.  Most of the time when someone said, “Do we really have to do that?” it was not one of the “hard-working” people that said that, it was someone on the other end of the spectrum.  Often, though, there really was a better way to do a job, and the lazy person came up with it.

Down here at Dell, just about everyone is a work-a-holic.  I fit in with them well (believe it or not).  But I see people wearing their fingers out on the keyboard trying to get things done as soon as possible, and I think, “Maybe there’s a better way to do this.”

I have told my manager that I think we should keep a handful of lazy people around just to come up with the good ideas to get out of work.  He told me that he had never heard such a thing.  He also didn’t think that it would be something that they would like to do. —  I told him that since we are focusing on Diversity that we should be open to a diverse workforce that has both lazy and hard-working people.

I don’t know.  Maybe this idea is just a little before it’s time.  —  I suppose after a few lawsuits from lazy people being discriminated against, things will change.

Well.  I have been rambling long enough.  Today I am driving up to Lawton, Oklahoma to bring Kelly and the kids to visit Kelly’s sister for a week.  Next week I have Jury Duty, I don’t know what will become of that.  —  I know.  I’ll suggest that they should have just as many daydreaming people on the jury as alert people in order to make it diverse.  —  Maybe they will just tell me to leave and go back to work.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer…..

I’ll write later,

Your friendly Dell Programmer from the Diverse Dwelling at Dell,

Kevin James Anthony Breazile

______________________

Kevin J. Breazile

Programmer/Analyst III

Dell Computer Corporation

(512) 728-1527

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