If you work in an office, chances are you've run into one comparison between your office and the Dilbert comic strip. I love Dilbert, and ever since the stopped making new Far Side strips, it's my desk calendar of choice. One of the things I've often wondered is what company Dilbert would work for in real life. Well, after reading the news this week, I think the answer is pretty clear. Dilbert must work at Volkswagen!
Liars, Cheats, Polluters
One of the top stories, and I think it will only keep gaining momentum, is how Volkswagen got caught and fully admitted to lying about their diesel cars. They made hundreds of thousands of diesel cars, and it turns out, had a computer software program that blatantly worked so that they were lying about emissions and polluting the enviornment. And, this was all intentional!
They had software that controlled emissions, and it could be set to have certain systems bypassed in normal use, and only be activated during testing. What this meant is that a car being tested for emissions would report everything just fine, but during everyday driving, would be putting out lots more (up to 40 times more, to be exact) harmful emissions.
I never really read too much about why they would do this, but I'm assuming that if the emissions were ‘as they should be' all the time, that the mileage would be significantly worse or the car would not function as well or that repair costs would be higher.
But, honestly, does it really matter?
So Why Does Dilbert Work At Volkswagen
Dilbert, in his comic strip, has a whole slew of scenarios in which he or his co-workers are featured. They all focus on the absurdities of daily interactions, often around dating or relationships with family members, but most of the time, it's focused on where he works.
His boss ‘The Pointy-Haired Boss' and his bosses boss ‘The C.E.O.' are two of the most wicked characters, but now that you read about the VW scandal, you realize that they'd fit right in there! Let's look at some of their common behaviors:
They Lie All The Time
Both of the bosses lie all the time, right to the faces of their employees, vendors, and yes, their customers, and then even laugh about it behind their backs. Sound like something that might have happened at VW?
They Act Above The Law
Little things like laws and regulations matter not to Dilbert's bosses, and it's evident that such trivial things like rules don't matter at all to those at VW. Something like this had to go all the way or pretty near the top.
They Mock The Intelligence of Others
In Dilbert, the bosses will purposefully send a product to market that could harm consumers or simply wouldn't work, but they don't mind because they assume that nobody will ever figure it out. With hundreds of thousands of diesel VW cars on the road, you'd think that it would occur to someone that it'd all get figured out someday, but apparently they really didn't care or think that anybody would ever uncover what they were doing.
They're Driven By Money At All Other Costs
Dilbert's bosses will cut corners, fire employees, and do a whole mess of other actions. All they care about are their bonuses. Something so ridiculous as this VW scandal can only be driven by one thing: Greed.
The Big Difference
The one big difference between Dilbert and VW is that Dilbert is funny. You're supposed to laugh at the sheer absurdity of what they present. But, what's happening at VW is not funny at all. A company that's spent decades building a reputation is now going to see it tarnished. Stockholders have already lost over 20% of their holdings since the scandal was uncovered.
You have to wonder how this started, but I have an idea. Just imagine, somehwere in the VW headquarters: Someone or a bunch of someones were one day reading Dilbert, and instead of laughing and putting the comic aside, they said “Hey, that's not a half bad idea….”
And, voila, a $7 billion scandal was born!
Side note: I really think that Dilbert is in good fun. I know that the author writes it with that intent. This post is in jest, but the similarities are pretty hard to ignore, no?
What's Next At Volkswagen? Can They Recover?
But at VW, it'll probably get worse. Many times when something like this happens, then other things magically start bubbling to the surface. Does anybody really believe that this is the only shady thing that VW has been up to? On top of that, a diminished reputation leads to lower sales. This could send things spiraling down and down. Eventually the $7 billion that they've estimated will be just the tip of the iceberg.
Readers, anybody out there drive a VW or have any feelings about the scandal? What do you think inspires something like this?