As I said in my previous blog article, there is a decline of quality worldwide. But I didn’t expect to provide an example so soon. As you probably know, there was recently a quarrel between the European Union and AstraZeneca regarding the contract for providing the Covid-19 vaccine. Parts of the contract were intended to remain secret, but the EU has chosen to provide publicly the contract while hiding the secret paragraphs. However, this was done so poorly that journalists from a German newspaper (Der Spiegel) have managed to read parts of what was thought to be removed, as you can read in the screenshot I added above. I provide a link to a German article where some aspects are explained. You can use Google Translate (or other translation service) if you need the English version:

Of course, this is embarrassing, so the news has vanished, conveniently, from the frontpage of many news services, and some English-speaking services didn’t even say a word about it.

I have some key points here to highlight:

1. It would be better to hire competent people, especially when dealing with sensitive information. The contract could have been secured in an easier way by printing it on paper and then scanning the paper back into a pdf format. Simple and basic. But you need brains for that.

2. The more languages you can speak, better informed you are, because you can read several points of view coming from different backgrounds. In turbulent times like the ones we’re living, this is a superpower which I recommend to others, especially to people younger than me. It helps, because by reading in several languages it is harder for you to be misinformed and then misled.

3. Hiding embarrassing mistakes is neither brave, not intelligent. There should be consequences because what has been lost here is trust. How can I trust someone incompetent? How can I do business with a careless partner who can reveal private information? Trust is important in human relationships, be it partnerships (the fidelity of a lover), life-saving surgery (the skill of a doctor) or businesses where a lot of money is involved.

Join the Conversation

  1. How right you are! Attention to details and professionalism seems to be much worse than when I was a practicing engineer 20 plus years ago. I’m retired now at age 77, but I still keep my mind sharp by teaching English online.
    I do want to say that I am quite impressed with Vivaldi as it is today. I used it a few years back (8 to 10) if I remember correctly and I was not particularly impressed then. But, it has improved markedly. The speed alone is a big plus for me.

    1. Some people say that nowadays the focus is more on collaboration, sharing and emotions, and less on professionalism and critical thinking. Perhaps it’s a different period in history, but I still believe that there are aspects and fields of study where precision is important.
      As for Vivaldi, I was more or less with it since the beginning, and even before, with the old Opera. It never expanded into something truly big and global, but this is mostly due to a certain quiet perseverance and an attitude of not forcing things. Plus, it has a different mentality of carefully designing everything and sometimes bringing innovation. I sometimes dream of seeing Vivaldi a bigger social network built around its browsers. Anyway, I find this corner of the internet still safe and relatively well protected when it comes to freedom of speech and excessively heated political debates.
      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I must also agree.

    >Attention to details and professionalism

    They seem to be lost in a quagmire of mediocrity in an effort to what end? The increase in profits?
    Establishments of high repute pay the minimum in wages, manufacturers make products from the least expensive resources they can get and have them manufactured where it is also least expensive, restaurants and bistros use the cheapest of ingredients to minimize costs and back to the topic at hand, ministers of state and high level management officials draw up contracts worth millions (billions?) and are too lazy to take a printed contract to the recipient but scan it, send it off to be signed by unencrypted email, have the signed copy returned the same way so they can put their signatures in it.
    I know little of this particular case but I completely understand, How many thousands of times has this happened previously? in a car sale? a house or flat sale?
    I also am retired `12 years, and every day I seem to have to ask myself ‘When will we ever learn?’. We have made these mistakes before and we still…

    1. I don’t think it’s so much about profits, but it might be some sort of lack of respect for the customers (or the general public in this case). It could also be the fact that they hired incompetent people because they are cheaper, but it could also be the fact that those people who have been hired landed in fact their jobs there because of corruption. It is no news the fact that the perception of the European institutions is linked to bureaucracy and the existence of political clientele. So perhaps those people got their jobs in the EU because they had the right connections to work there rather the fact that they were cheap workers.
      Why I have this perception? Because at some point in the past I wanted to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and other EU or International organizations. There was a time when I was available even to go to Africa and work a dirty underpaid job there, where I could easily die or be killed. My CV was rejected for so many times until I understood that one needs “connections” to work in these institutions, and even for the simplest positions you need “some sort of recommendation”. You can’t just simply come from the outside of the system. For me, it was like waking up from a deep dream. I mean, I’m a doctor, I worked internationally, I speak 4 languages, yet the lowest possible (even non-medical) positions or the worst medical jobs in deprived countries weren’t open to me?!? Yes, they weren’t. This is something that I lived and not something I read about. Therefore, so as to go back to the subject, carelessness is not necessarily linked to profits in my opinion. Or it may be linked the other way around: some people need to make big profits and therefore they’re hired in well-paying jobs. It is therefore understandable why they don’t care about precision or details; they get the money anyway, and if they make an error, the System will excuse them and cover everything. In the end, the general public will forget… ‘cause we don’t want any negative vibes, right?!