Buried in the Wrong Grave

By Frank Kenna

A huge scandal continues to unfold at Arlington National Cemetery, where graves have been mixed up.  While the number had originally been estimated in the hundreds, it’s now reported to be over 6,000.

You’ve really got to wonder, how could this happen?

While the investigation is still in the early stages, I can almost guarantee that poor workplace communications are a factor here.  Already, investigators are citing an “unhealthy organizational climate” for employees.  The employee in question said that, “It was always conceptual that anything done by hand for 40-plus years, that there would have to be some errors somewhere,” seemingly admitting to knowing the problems were there all along.

The oversight panel’s investigation revealed inaccuracies in labeling of cemetery maps, outdated manual processes and lack of external oversight. That’s just the beginning of the story. This is an extreme example of lack of communication in:
· Defining proper processes and procedures
· Communicating quality standards for accuracy of work
· Emphasizing employee accountability
· Encouraging employee feedback and suggestions for improvement

Clear communication, audits and scheduled reviews are essential to the success of any business―be it oil drilling, manufacturing…or grave digging.

Photo: www.arlingtoncemetery.org

Sharon Toelle
August 4, 2010

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