Archive for June, 2012

June 15th, 2012

The Three-Idiot Problem

Ignorance more frequently begets
confidence than does knowledge.

Charles Darwin
The Descent of Man (1871)

Ask most people why so many larger companies seem rife with incompetence and lassitude while smaller companies seem to remain focused and productive, and you’ll likely hear the incremental argument: more people and more process results in less efficiency. Perhaps someone will cite the Peter Principle or Dunning-Kruger. You may even hear a market-friendly variation on social Darwinism: while larger companies usually have the capital to survive their mistakes, smaller companies have little choice but to sink or swim, resulting in a marketplace that seems to be primarily populated by well-run small companies.

June 14th, 2012

Recommended: Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Imperial Life in the Emerald CityIt’s hard to imagine a more damning project post-mortem than Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which will be only vaguely familiar to those who’ve seen the Matt Damon movie loosely based on it. (And by “loosely,” I mean The Serpent and the Rainbow loosely.)

The book is no thriller: it details, misstep by misstep, the failures of both people and process in the aftermath of the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq, with particular focus on the cronyism and ivory tower economics which would ultimately define  L. Paul Bremer’s viceroyship.