Business Bullshit – André Spicer
The one sentence summary
Most organisations are flooded with empty talk and it’s killing them because management speak has become more important than long-lasting results.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
- Bullshit statements have one signature feature: they are unclarifiable – not only obscure but they cannot be rendered unobscure.
- How to minimise bullshit production:
- Eliminate bullshit jobs – many people feel they have jobs that are utterly meaningless.
- Cut back corporate escapism – awayday preening exercises rarely result in action.
- Provide employees some security – most bullshit is generated by people who are insecure in their jobs.
- Give employees space to ask questions – that means not being scared to state that something appears to be bullshit.
- Forget best practice – lots of initiatives are started just because the competition is doing it.
- Focus on stability – managerial bullshit is obsessed with change and many organisations suffer from repetitive change syndrome.
- How to slow down the exchange of bullshit:
- Reality test – get the facts on whether something truly works or not.
- Rationality test – poor reasoning is a hallmark of bullshit. Ask why does this need to be done at all?
- Meaning test – do the concepts genuinely make sense to the audience?
- Intentionality test – what intentions and motives lie behind the bullshit?
- Clarifiability test – can this actually be clarified and does it help the business?
- How to stop rewarding bullshit:
- Limit attention to it.
- Don’t legitimise it.
- Provide alternative bases of self-confidence.
- Make stupidity costly.
- Making increasing organisational load costly.
- Track trust.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
- The average CV contains over 8 deceptive statements. 44% of CVs contain misrepresentations of past employment.
- Big data is “complete bollocks – absolute nonsense.” Most data sets aren’t that big, and there is little material difference in the analysis that can be done with a large or small dataset.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
- There is a fair bit to wade through before arriving at any suggested remedies.
- There are a large number of typos in the book – it wasn’t proofed well.
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