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Blame.

In a 2017 study titled Do Women Ask?, researchers were surprised to find that women actually do ask for raises as often as men — we’re just more likely to be turned down. Conducted by faculty at the Cass Business School, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Warwick and using data collected from over 4,600 Australian workers, the study was expected to confirm long-established theories around women’s reluctance to negotiate. Instead, the analysis showed that men’s and women’s propensity to negotiate is roughly the same.

Otegha Uwagba on asking, not getting.

Shocking news to absolutely no woman, I’m sure…

2019-11-14T08:50:36+11:001st March, 2020|Tags: business, culture|

Corporate daddies.

A central premise of business education is that leadership and management can be taught in the classroom. Harvard Business School says its mission is “to educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” where a difference is defined as creating “real value for society.” And so, Jensen’s logic makes sense: Harvard attracts the very best students and, presumably, is good at educating them to be better business leaders, so corporate America should want more Harvard graduates running companies — and this logic should extend to MBA programs beyond just Harvard.

But regression results suggest a different result entirely. We tagged CEOs by the MBA programs they attended, formed monthly portfolios of companies broken down by the business school each CEO attended, and compared the returns of these portfolios to the broader market.

We found no statistically significant alphas — despite testing every possible school with a reasonable sample size. MBA programs simply do not produce CEOs who are better at running companies, if performance is measured by stock price return.

Dan Rasmussen & Haonan Li on the MBA mythos.

True story: My husband has an MBA from Harvard. I probably shouldn’t show him this article…1

  1. Actually, I probably shouldn’t show the people who hire him this article… []
2019-11-14T08:50:02+11:001st March, 2020|Tags: business|

Kafkynchian.

Just as the American employment picture became more dystopian around the turn of the millennium, so too have books on careers divested themselves of the optimism of [Richard Bolles’s 1970 book, What Color Is Your] Parachute. Or so it seems to me. For example, in 2007, Stanford professor Robert Sutton wrote a little book about creating civil workplaces and gave it a memorable title — The No Asshole Rule. It was, he says in the introduction, at least in part inspired by his personal experiences. As he puts it, he wished to find ways of avoiding “the petty but relentless nastiness that pervades much of academic life.” (After that book became a bestseller, he found, as he notes in his 2017 book, The Asshole Survival Guide, that he suddenly went from being known within academia as a scholar of the psychology of business and management to international recognition as “the Asshole Guy” — that is an expert on the bullies and jerks who abound in office settings.) Another perennially popular title (also from 2007), Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek caters to disillusioned workers who have ceased to believe that there is any hospitable workplace. It jettisons the idea of work as vocation, and instead encourages people to spend as little time and energy as possible earning a paycheck.

The whole world of career books, then, seems to reflect a sense among readers that a “dream job” is not a realistic goal.

Rachel Paige King on work.

2019-09-03T11:53:12+10:0029th December, 2019|Tags: business, culture, work|

Magic Spells for Business.

As someone who has (if you’ll excuse the bragging here for a second) successfully delivered multiple multi-year, multi-million dollar projects—as well as plenty of smaller things—I think I’m fairly qualified to state that project management is bullshit.

PRINCE2? Bullshit. PMBOK? Bullshit. Kanban? Bullshit. Agile? Bullshit. Scrum? Bullshit. So much bullshit you could fertilize the botanic gardens indefinitely.

I could write entire essays picking apart every specific form of bullshit but in the main my complaint boils down to this:

Project management methodologies are unfalsifiable, and are therefore essentially magic spells for business.

You did Vendor Project Management Methodology X™ and your project delivered? It’s the project management, obviously!

You did Vendor Project Management Methodology X™ and your project failed? Well, obviously it’s because you didn’t project manage properly.

There is no metric by which a project management methodology can itself be the cause of failure, or even simply make a project worse off (e.g. by adding extra layers of bureaucracy, administrivia, disruptions, negative team/stakeholder feelings, et cetera). Ergo, project management is bullshit.

2019-08-30T08:01:41+10:0022nd December, 2019|Tags: business|

So competent on paper.

Related to my Everything I Know About Management I Learnt From Running a Raiding Guild in Vanilla World of  Warcraft, this article reminds me that our recruiting maxim was always, “You can teach someone to play but you can’t teach them not to be an asshole.”1

  1. As it turned out, this wasn’t entirely true; we had some very lovely people who were also kinda useless. But it’s definitely mostly true, or true enough. []
2019-08-28T15:32:11+10:0019th December, 2019|Tags: business|

Inbox infinity.

The case for not replying to emails.

I used to be meticulous about keeping inbox zero until I hit a middle-management-esque job where I was getting like a hundred of the things a day. So in defense I started instituting the Mustrum Ridcully Method, i.e. assuming people would just come in and tell me anything actually important, at which point I’d find the associated email and action it.

I can’t quite get away with that any more, but I still don’t reply to everything and don’t really worry too much about stuff “backlogging” and… yup. Yup, I can definitely recommend it.

2019-01-22T13:54:17+11:0018th June, 2019|Tags: business, email, tech|

The second industrious revolution.

I am neither for nor against temping (or consulting, or freelancing). If this emergent flexible economy were all bad or all good, there would be no need to make a choice about it. For some, the rise of the gig economy represents liberation from the stifled world of corporate America.

But for the vast majority of workers, the “freedom” of the gig economy is just the freedom to be afraid. It is the severing of obligations between businesses and employees. It is the collapse of the protections that the people of the United States, in our laws and our customs, once fought hard to enshrine.

We can’t turn back the clock, but neither is job insecurity inevitable.

Louis Hyman on jobs.

2018-08-28T10:55:02+10:006th February, 2019|Tags: business, economics|

On a scale of zero to ten…

You know how sometimes websites or apps or whatever will give you that “on a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend us?” thing? What is up with those, amirite?

Well, turns out those surveys are for calculating something called “Net Promoter Score” and it’s even further along the “nonsense pseudoscience” scale than I’d originally assumed

2018-01-15T08:35:42+11:0025th June, 2018|Tags: business, tech|

Kill your Ricklings.

On the benefits of firing “superstar” programmers.

Like most people in STEM I’ve worked with a fair few Ricks and wannabe-Ricks in my day, and they are always, without fail, explosive disaster zones. There is nothing so great they contribute that it can make up for the mess they leave in their wake.

2019-07-31T09:39:44+10:004th April, 2018|Tags: business, tech|