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Saturday, 20 June 2009

If you're the bosses, you're the problem, you loathsome turds

I've never needed a recession to find myself in trouble: I've always managed to cock up things on my own. Like my first two businesses, and damn nearly my present one.

I've always concluded that if it was my business it was my fault, but I am sadly behind the times.

In 2007/8 the directors of Remploy fired 2,500 of their disabled workers - then, as a thank you, paid themselves £1.7 million in bonuses. What creeps. How low can you sink? If they heeded to fire people it means they were doing a shit job. They should have fired themselves.

I will not bore you with superfluous remarks about the Toad and the rest of the rabble who are about to get a pay rise as a reward for dishonouring the Mother of Parliaments, let alone reptilian bankers like the obscene Goodwin. Again: all worthy of unemployment, not pensions.

In a happier - well, funnier - vein, let us turn to the fact that MySpace is cutting 30% of jobs. It is being overtaken by another non-profit-making organisation - Facebook. The reason given in the usual corporate gabble by the MySpace boss, who sports the rather quaint name of Owen Van Natta (a friend of Dita Von Teese, perhaps?) is:

"Our staff levels were bloated and hindered our ability to be an efficient and team-oriented company."

"Nimble"? "Team oriented"? You're not competing in the Olympics, Owen dear, and these strange uses of language hinder your ability to get anything done. Take all this crap about teams. Good ideas tend to come from individuals. Your boss Ruthless Rupe is not what you might call a team player.

If I were Owen, by the way, I'd be seriously worried about my immediate boss, Jon Miller, whose last job was running AOL.

We all know what a total shipwreck that has been, so Jon must be quite a neat operator. How did he get another job? Does that sort of thing sometimes mystify you?

Let me explain.

The chief reason, which you must have given thought to, is that to succeed you must be good at something. But people who get to run large organisations tend to be good at just that - not at running them. So that explains the last 40 years at General Motors, the last 60 odd years of Great Britain and will almost certainly explain the next 60 years of Europe

Just to give you an idea how it works in business, here is Drayton Bird's General Theory of Corporate Employment, which explains a lot about why the world is the way it is.

This starts with the fact that the person doing the employing often knows little about the job to be filled.

Take an example in two fields I know something about. The HR guy looking for a marketing director knows little or nothing about marketing. Nor does the CEO who will have the ultimate decision. He is an accountant.

To be fair, most of the people in marketing know very little about it either, but that's another subject

Anyhow, most employers don't look for someone who hasn't done the job before but looks like they could and is dying to prove themselves. They don't know enough to recognise such a beast and prefer to play it safe.

So they look for someone who has done the job before. It doesn't occur to them that such a person is often looking round because they're not very good.

That's why marketing directors have an average shelf-life of little over a year.

Essentially, it's just like politics. Those who climb the corporate ladder are better at bullshitting than doing. That is why MBAs are so valuable. Valuable to those who have them, not to those who employ them.

The figures show that the more MBAs a firm employs the lower the profits. Interesting, eh?

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