Posts tagged ‘performance’

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.

March 14th, 2011

Recommended: Google’s Rules

For those who might’ve missed it in the business section of the New York Times this weekend, Google has formalized what it believes to be the perceived attributes of a successful manager, and there’s much to admire here:

December 22nd, 2010

Of Studios and Sweatshops

For some reason, many companies treat their production team as a fixed quantity, something to be accommodated or disbanded but rarely improved. It’s the rare C-level executive who understands that a production team exists on a spectrum between good and bad, and that thoughtful management can influence the quality of their team. Perhaps this says something about the quality spectrum of C-level executives: the fewer people at the top of the pyramid, the narrower and more polarized the output.

November 16th, 2010

Re-engineering a Better Performance Review

There’s a dirty little secret about performance reviews, which is this: most of them are useless. Managers dread them because they’re tedious and time-consuming and potentially volatile. Employees hate them because all too often a performance review is the only objective data point informing compensation and bonus. Rarely in my experience does a performance review actually accomplish its primary goal of encouraging superior performance or correcting unproductive behavior.

June 24th, 2010

Bad Managers

Over the past ten years, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some excellent managers and business strategists. I’ve also worked with a fair number of wasters. In fact, I’ve come to a sort of counter-Tolstoy realization about managers: the good ones seem each to be unique in their particular approach to handling people and process, while the bad ones are dispiritingly alike.


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