CEOs with A Sense Of Humor

BP just reported very nice results. (I’m sure this comes as a great surprise to Americans paying $4.00+ per gallon at the pump—and Brits springing for $10.00+ for the same amount of petrol.) The “humor” part of the news item was the relatively new CEO, Tony Hayward, claiming that the good news was a product of “the first signs of real change inside the company.” (He inherited a bit of a mess.)

He was joking, right?

If 100.00000000000% of BPers had been sound asleep at their work stations throughout the quarter, BP would have had great results as oil hit $120 per barrel.

Do these guys—e.g., “Big Tony”—really believe that their “programs are paying off”? I know it’s a game, but surely they must understand what complete idiots they sound like.

On second thought, I guess I can understand their reluctance to tell it like it is: “Wow, are we ever lucky blokes! The Chinese are inhaling hydrocarbons by the gazillions of barrels with no end in sight, the guzzlin’ Americans still think “conservation” is a 4-letter word, and the Royals in Saudi and their pawns at OPEC know they have the world over a barrel, as it were. Hence, with no action whatsoever by us, demand is soaring, supply is constrained, and our shareholders are rolling in the resultant loot. Plus, we’ll be able to keep capital expenditures well under control, since there is utterly no incentive to find or refine more hydrocarbons and thence increase supply and thereby wound the geese that are laying the golden eggs. You can confidently look forward to us doing absolutely nothing except hiring more accountants and acquiring bigger vaults.”

Tom Peters posted this on May 2, 2008, in Markets.
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