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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|

The iron stiletto.

On woman-on-woman bullying in the workplace.

The worst bullies I’ve personally endured in my career have been dudes, but I’ve skirted around a few women.1 A quote in the article pretty much nails the problem:

With women, I’m partly being judged on my abilities and partly being judged on whether or not I’m ‘a friend,’ or ‘nice,’ or ‘fun.’

And, oh boy. I have stories. Do I have stories, particularly given I’m not a particularly sociable nor emotionally available person.

One day, when I’m a millionaire New York Times bestseller and no longer need a day job, I might even be able to tell them…

 

  1. Incidentally, all the worst offenders worked for the same company, even when I encountered them in different parts of the organisation at different times. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence… []
2017-10-03T16:05:42+11:008th March, 2018|Tags: business, culture|

How to be smart (at meetings).

Needless to say, satire or no, quite a few of these probably work better for one half (or less) of the population

2017-09-12T11:17:07+10:0018th February, 2018|Tags: business, culture|