On Management Books

I ran into a guy driving the new BMW i8. I asked how he’d become so successful. He gave me a pamphlet. It said, on the cover “How I got rich”. I flipped through the pages. There was a lot of weird things this guy had done. He always used a certain type of shampoo, and recommended I do the same. He never drove red cars, so I should avoid them, and he took two teaspoons of suger in his morning coffee.

I asked how this would make me successful? It just didn’t make sense to me – perhaps doing certain things would alter my perception, causing me to become more successful I offered as an explanation.

He squinted, paused a second, and said “I did these things, and I won the lottery 2 years ago”. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes. He lit one, inhaled deep and with a painful expression he proceeded to say “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”. He then stepped into his shiny new car, and drove off.

There’s no arguing with that.. it’s in LATIN, and he drowe a BMW i8!!!

Arguably the most successful company* in the world was run by someone who many people say was an asshole. But without Woz (and a whole lot of circumstantial luck), I doubt that Jobs would have gotten very far. After the success of Jobs, a lot of people felt that their assholery became validated as a management strategy, Post hoc….

Microsoft did not have a Woz (they did have Allen though). Contrary to popular belief, Gates is not a programming genius (he’s probably good though). Gates is a genius in making deals and ruthlessly destroying any threat to the core business. He, and Ballmer were such wonderful mensch (sarcasm), and they built this massive, successful company. So, Post hoc..

I can’t find any empirical evidence that suggest that one management style is more likely to be successful than the other. There are companies that are run by sociopathic assholes, and are successful. There are companies run by geniuses yet fail miserably.

Self-serving bias is a real thing, which is one reason I don’t read management books. If you are successful, you’ll stand on your anthill yelling “post hoc”, whereas, if you fail, it was something external.

*Apple!!!

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