The Revised Value of Knowing

From: G.I. Joe Executive Management Team

To: All Joe Staff

Joe Team:

As you know, fiscal year 2011 has been difficult for the organization. The economic rebound we had hoped for failed to materialize, and we have been forced to make some difficult decisions in order to cut costs and keep G. I. Joe vital and operating at maximum efficiency.

Firstly, we are announcing the departure of Harlan Moore, whom most of you know as “Snow Job.” Sergeant Moore has accepted a management position at Columbia Sportswear. His last day with Joe will be October 31, 2011. We wish him well in his future endeavors.

At the same time, we have decided to eliminate the Arctic Operations Group (AOG), because of the continued lull in missions requiring cold weather operations skills. As such, Frostbite, Avalanche, and their support staff will be laid off as of October 31, 2011. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

Secondly, Joe’s Legal Department has reached a settlement in King v. G. I. Joe with the family of Owen King (“Sneak Peek”) who was killed during the battle of Benzheen. While we cannot disclose most of the terms of the settlement, one of the settlement terms will have a significant impact on G. I. Joe’s organizational culture. Before discussing the specific change, let’s look at the rationale behind it.

Over the last several years, our average per-battle costs have skyrocketed. One of the key reasons for the increase in costs is demand-driven. The market for the rare earth metals needed to build the batteries that power our laser weapons has grown immensely, while extraction of the metals has become more expensive. Simply put, we’re paying much higher prices for batteries for our laser weapons than we were in 2005 because of competition from automakers and consumer electronics manufacturers. Fuel costs for air, land, and sea transport have increased greatly, and we have seen increases in the cost of basic utilities such as electricity, sewer, and water service to Joe’s bases around the world.

On the personnel side, Joe has worked to provide consistent cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) each year, as well as merit-based salary adjustments for personnel. We have also worked very closely with our insurers to continue to provide excellent benefits for Joes and their families. Through our diligence and hard work, you enjoy somewhat more comprehensive health benefits than we were able to provide in the 1980’s, with only a slight increase in co-pays. However, this has come at a high cost to the Joe organization. With ongoing battles in a number of areas around the world, our insurance costs have also risen greatly. All these factors have combined to effectively reduce the value of intelligence (commonly referred to as “knowing” internally) for a given battle, as shown in the chart below.

Fig. 1 - Average Value per Battle

As you can see, while knowing was half the battle in 1985, even by 1995, it was just about a third of the battle; by the end of FY 2010, knowing has been reduced to only about a fifth of the battle.

Attorneys for the King family claimed that Sneak Peek’s death was the result of: 1) Joe’s ongoing assertion that knowing was half the battle, and 2) executive management’s failure to communicate the decreased value of knowing prior to the battle of Benzheen. While Joe’s executive management admits no wrongdoing, we have been forced to make some changes in one of our key slogans as part of the settlement.

Per the recommendations of Joe’s Legal Department, existing printed materials that bear the slogan “Knowing is half the battle” will still carry the phrase, but will be labeled with an asterisked disclaimer reading, “Does not constitute battle advice and is not meant to reflect actual battle conditions. Please consult your commander before entering battle.” Effective immediately, Joe staff are no longer permitted say “Knowing is half the battle,” since we cannot include the disclaimer during verbal communications. The approved slogan is:

Knowing is an important part of the battle.

New orders for printed materials must contain the approved phrase, but will still retain the disclaimer to help prevent confusion. Joe IT must implement the approved phrase as soon as possible on all internal and external websites, systems, and applications where appropriate.

Your understanding and compliance with the new requirements is appreciated. We look forward to a more prosperous FY 2012. Go Joes!1

  1. Cover image by Pablo Fernández. Licensed under Creative Commons.