Recently the head of the oversight committee on the financial crisis, Elizabeth Warren was on Jon Stewart’s show, and after he asked her a couple of questions about the magnitude of the mess, and she said, repeatedly, “I don’t know” he looked at her and asked “do you have Excel?” which at the time seemed not only the right question, but also very funny.
Now I am not so sure.
Mortgages are getting foreclosed all over the place these days, and it seems like every day the paper has a picture of another really sad story about someone who is losing their house. Today was no exception. But the story today was different in that there was a report about a case in Florida where Judge Walt Logan was dealing with a case with a company that was trying to foreclose on a house even though it had never loaned any money for that house. Judge Logan insisted that this company explain how it came into possession of the mortgage that it was now foreclosing, even being so courteous as to ask “don’t you think that’s reasonable?” and the reply was “I don’t” and he went on to say that it would be impossible because the way mortgages have been traded over the years has made it all but impossible to track the paper trail.
My work is all about causality, getting to what is the cause of performance and what specific changes to smaller pieces of work will cause the bigger pieces to get to a better performance or outcome. If we lave lost traceability (which is also accountability) in the mortgage business, there’s no assurance we are making any of the right moves and this is way past being an Excel problem. Yikes.