Uninformed Opinions

Week in! Finally. Not a bad session at gym. There was only one harassing weight bouncer this morning, the kind who shake a one-handed dumbbell at you, miming skull crushing, and the podcast was surprising. The latter was an episode of the CBC’s "Best of Ideas" dealing with C. S. Lewis. It started poorly but actually had a couple of useful thought vectors which is often as much as one may expect from a podcast.

Over the weekend I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and it rang like a cathedral bell. We used to have a deputy director of laboratory who was a fanatic of the Sloan Schule at the wonk schule on the Charles. This is not about the schule being overrated – not the whole place, just the Sloan part – but about the delusion that anyone who is trained in management can manage anything and anyone. And this deputy director and I would have persisting discussions – no fisticuffs – over this.

In my experience and observation, which I tend to trust over schule teachings once tested, no one can do a passable job of managing nerds and geeks (and some bogs) who isn’t technically competent enough to be trusted. By technically competent I don’t mean as a manager but as a practitioner of whatever discipline is relevant to the organization.

Now this fellow had a few degrees in chemistry but he discounted those compared to the Sloan diploma. And never seemed to realize that people put up with him despite that. In fact, the general view was that he was the only Sloan graduate around who wasn’t a welfare incompetent- someone who is kept around out of mercy and embarrassment. And too much charity. But he was – barely – the exception that proves the rule, as the saying goes.

Sadly, a lot of managers are this way, mostly because the Sloan delusion is so common. It appeals to the eliteness and arrogance of those who want to be managers. It frees them from having to know anything except management arcana. And not much of that. Which is, in a way, good because a lot of management arcana is rotten stercus. Mixed with eau d’Pepe.

Happily , I don’t have to put up with these people as much as I used to. I still run into them and see the harm they are doing to people and organizations but I am passing by and if they are too bad I can shift that business elsewhere. That’s why the internet is so great. It lets us avoid incompetent, arrogant, obnoxious managers.

Of course the nerds and geeks have a bit of that as well.