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Perdue's guide to good government (please skip the Enron chapter)


On the campaign trail, President Bush made a big deal about his plans to be the CEO of government.

Then Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing, etc. happened, and the word CEO didn't have quite the same ring anymore.

But that hasn't stopped Governor-elect Sonny Perdue from declaring that he too intends to be Georgia's chief executive. To that end, in a recent dinner with freshmen legislators, Perdue handed out John Maxwell's The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork -- self-help for the boardroom set. The idea was admirable enough: get Democrats and Republicans on the same page to work as a team and develop a common vocabulary.

Perdue, though, might hope that legislators skip over one of the sections of the book. In the chapter, "The Law of the Compass," Maxwell raves about a company that provides strong direction and values but leaves the achievements that can be attained "somewhat open-ended."

That company, of course, is Enron, and everyone now knows about its "open-ended" achievements. Maxwell quotes former Enron heads Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling and praises them for giving their "team members" direction and confidence. "And when they have direction and confidence, the team is able to develop its potential and go to a whole new level."

If you caught the congressional hearing in which Lay and Skilling, among others, invoked their 5th Amendment rights, how could you argue?

In a send-up of worshipers of the Enron business model for the The New Yorker in July, Malcolm Gladwell characterized Enron as "a company that took more credit for success than was legitimate, that did not acknowledge responsibility for its failures, that shrewdly sold the rest of us on its genius and that substituted self-nomination for disciplined management."

We're guessing that's not what Perdue was going for.

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