“Why Assholes Fool Themselves”

1. You and your organisation are effective despite rather than because you are a demeaning jerk.  You make the mistake of attributing success to the virtues of your nasty ways, even though your demeaning actions actually undermine performance.

2. You mistake your successful power grab for organisational success,  The skills that get you a powerful job are different – often the opposite – from the skills needed to do the job well.

3. The news is bad, but people only tell you good news.  The ‘shoot the messenger’ problem means that people are afraid to give you bad news, because you will blame and humiliate them.  So you think things are going great, even though problems abound.

4. People put on an act when you are around.  Fear causes people to do the ‘right’ things when you are watching them.  As soon as you leave, they revert to less effective or downright destructive behaviour – which you don’t see.

5. People work to avoid your wrath rather than to do what is best for the organisation.  The only employees who can survive your management style devote all their energy to avoiding blame rather than fixing problems.

6. You are being charged ‘asshole taxes’ but don’t know it.  You are such a jerk that people are willing to work for you and your company only if you pay them premium rates.

7. Your enemies are silent (for now), but the list keeps growing.  Your demeaning actions mean that day after day, you turn more people against you, and you don’t realise it.  Your enemies don’t have the power to trash you right now, but are laying in wait to drive you out.

– from the book “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t” by Robert I. Sutton.

So does the Corporate IT Policy get enforced?

Smile - You're on film It’s been my sad experience over the last 20+ years, that what’s in the IT Policy vs. what gets enforced, is a bit of guess work for most people.  Here is a short guide.

Always enforced.
Looking at illegal porn (kiddies, dogs & gerbils).  If we find out about it, we have to report it; you kiddie fiddling scumbag.
You won’t know that you’ve been reported until PC Plod seizes everything.
If there is a set of stairs nearby, pray that you don’t trip walking down them.

Sometimes enforced
Porn surfing.  If someone sees you doing it, hears you doing it, we find it on your hard drives, or we see visits to <insert porn sites here>, it’s going to be reported to management.

But yes, commonsense is used.

If it’s an inadvertent visit, such as mistyping the name of the llewtube.com site, you’ll be fine.  But if we see a whole bunch of porn sites in the web proxy log, then your sad arse is getting reported.

Other things which will get you reported:

  • trying to bypass the corporate firewall with a Hamachi client.
  • downloading warez, DVD’s or music.  Do your leeching from your home.
  • Using BitTorrent.

Never enforced
If you hold a “C” title, “Sometimes enforced” becomes “Never enforced”.  Sure, we’ll report it.  The HR people won’t do anything about it, as they don’t have the bottle to do anything about it.

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“Forget this: Treat other people the way they’d like to be treated.”

There’s some sage advice in this BusinessWeek article by Peter Bregman

Because the world is more global and organizations are more diverse, the likelihood we will interact with people very different from us is increasing exponentially. And people who are different from us do things we don’t expect or want them to do. Sometimes they don’t look at us when we speak to them. Sometimes they talk back. Sometimes they don’t talk at all. They defy our expectations, and we feel frustrated.

Remember the golden rule? Treat other people the way you’d like to be treated? Forget it. It doesn’t apply anymore, if it ever did. Try this new rule instead: Treat other people the way they’d like to be treated.

If you don’t like to be micromanaged, for example, you probably try to avoid micromanaging others. But there are some times and some places where that would be a mistake. Like India, for example.

Article continues here.

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Australia’s GoDaddy

Using sex to sell IT services really turns me off.  It makes me think to myself:

“Is their service so poor, that they need to get my attention some other way.”

Domain Names - Everything you need to get ahead in business - Copy

I’m sure Domain Names you will get people who do think it’s appropriate for you to advertise this way, as you keep doing it.  Just like America’s GoDaddy:

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Anonymous questions box

NEPOTISM Sometimes an organisation asks for full and frank questions, but when they see questions, they don’t really want them asked.

Such as it was with a re-organisation of a government department.  It went something like this.

Peter was appointed as  BigEd CEO.  Peter was picked on his ability to toady up to politicians, and stab his colleagues in the back.  Or so it seemed to the staff he left in his wreakage.

Peter had a brother, Vic.  Vic wasn’t much good at what he did, so he was in a dead-end job.  The rumour was that Peter was going to appoint Vic as Chief Information Officer.

So that begged the all-staff meeting question:

Any truth that the Chief Information Officer role has already been filled, even before applications close???

‘No, no, no’, was the denial.

A week later, Vic was appointed.

anonymous-questions-box Proving that everything goes around in a circle, the “Anonymous questions box” appeared today at work.  I wonder if any of those questions will be filtered by our management gets to answer them.  Think I might ask the following:

  1. Have any of these anonymous questions been removed?
  2. What does it say about the organisation, when we need an anonymous questions box?
  3. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

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Why Service Level Agreements trend towards BS.

bpc Work with a big enough organisation and you’ll come across the Service Level Agreement (SLA).

An SLA basically says, “we’ll provide you with x level of service, for y dollars.  If we don’t provide you with that service, we’ll give you something in return.”

That “something” might be a partial refund of your y dollars; or a credit towards a future service.

There was one customer organisation who demanded that they have an IT technician based at their head office.  But didn’t want to pay for the premium service.
Big IT Company did the calculations, and said

No, that’ll cost us $10,000 a month to place someone there.  And only $5,000 a month in missed SLA penalties if we don’t.  We’ll take the penalties, thank you.

My, didn’t THAT improve the relationship with the customer.

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Performance Management, the one where we pay lip service to the concept.

The GPARS Performance Cycle At my last employer, there was a focus on “Performance Management”.  I always felt, even as a team leader, that we paid lip service to the whole process.
eg.  we were going though the motions.

Performance Management has many goals.  The primarily one is to ensure that the team is working towards/contributing to the objectives of the business.  The credibility of such objectives would be shot by the employer producing the objectives 6 months into the business year.

It was also shot like a lame duck, when one of our Human Relations people, was giving us a update on the Performance Management programme.  A couple of chaps were discussing a point which was raised by the HR person.

SHUT UP, I’m giving a presentation

bellows the HR person.

I can’t remember the substance of the programme update, but all the attendees remember “Freida Nurk” as the HR person who told people to shut up.

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“The bigger you grow, the more stupider you become”


… so writes Scott Barnes over at The MossyBlog Times.

The larger an organisation becomes, the more it’s Mass of Stupidity grows.  Until it reaches critically.

Sure, there are pockets of brilliance in one field or another, but on the whole, once an organisation reaches Stupidity Critically, it’s lost.

Even if the CEO might realise this, and wants to change:

No one person can control Microsoft today, which has been obvious to Gates for at least eight years, since that’s how long ago he put Steve Ballmer in the CEO job. For at least eight years, then, these guys have known that their jobs are not so much to steer the Microsoft ship as to try and keep it from drifting onto the rocks. That’s the way it is with huge and successful companies. At best you can trim the sails, because to come about (to significantly shift direction) is just too dangerous for the money machine.
Robert X. Cringely reflecting on Bill Gates in Go Home, Bill … (my italics)

You can tell that Stupidity Critically is reached when management starts talking about cultural change.

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The Bucket Of Water Thing.

emotionsl-investment The humble bucket of water is a simple way to gain work/life perspective.

  1. Fill up a bucket, with water.
  2. Put your hand in it.
    Move it all about if you life
    Notice the waves?
  3. Now take your hand out.

You’ll notice the water has settled.

So what actual difference have you made to that bucket of water.


If you’re working for a large organisation, you’re doing the bucket of water thing.

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