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Stupid Is as Stupid Does

by Miki Saxon

http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/5392982007/Remember the old saying “pretty is as pretty does,” meaning the action dictates the label?

Well, “stupid is as stupid does,” which is especially accurate when applied to management.

It’s hard to know which is most offensive when it comes to management—stupidity or ego, but when they join together the result is…wow; I’m not sure what adjective to use.

You decide.

I received a call from a distraught president. He said the company had been hit with a rash of resignations from some of their best development and marketing people and he had no idea why, since productivity had been running at an all-time high. Would I do some fast debriefing in an effort to turn things around?

It only took a few calls to identify the problem—actually the persons—responsible.

It turned out that the director of engineering and her counterpart in marketing had come up with a unique motivational technique.

They identified comparable projects both inter and intra-department and allowed the teams responsible to make steak and beans dinner bets with each other.

(For those unfamiliar the losing team buys steak dinners for the winning team, while they eat beans and are subject to good natured heckling by the winners.)

The contests had boosted productivity in both departments with most projects finishing early, even under budget, and morale was at an all time high.

The problem came from the fact that the engineering vp and the marketing vp were political enemies and didn’t want their two groups on good terms. Furthermore, the engineering vp felt work was serious business and games undermined his mission.

When they found out what was going on both were furious and agreed to fire the instigators.

That didn’t go over well with the staff, which had no hesitation of protesting with their feet, hence the flurry of resignations.

I reported back to the prez and, smart guy that he is, he didn’t hesitate.

After verifying what I told him he fired the two vice presidents and promoted the two directors.

Because his solution was not only swift, but highly visible, the resignations were withdrawn, the contest reinstated and the approach encouraged across the entire company.

Stupidity and ego; what adjective would you use?

Flickr image credit: opensourceway

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