Tuesday, December 25, 2007

'Bosses fire worker who put up 'Dilbert' comic'

A man was dismissed for putting up a Dilbert strip - read the article here: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071219/NEWS/712190360
In which system would people be fired for drawing cartoons of their "leaders"? You guessed it: a dictatorship system. In fact, the subordinate didn't even draw a cartoon - he simply put up a Dilbert cartoon. For that, he lost his job.

Guess how bosses identified the 'culprit'? They viewed surveillance tapes. Which obviously pre-supposes the existence of surveillance cameras. What does that remind you of? You guessed it again: a dictatorship system.

The issue went to court, and the employer lost.

Merry Christmas!

(Please email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com, and also visit my website, cvdhruve.com)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where a country's wealth comes from

One of the assumptions made about rich and powerful countries is that they’re rich/powerful because of their inherent wealth – natural resources, capital, and so on. But a great article in Reason quotes a World Bank study that shows that by far, the biggest part of a country’s wealth can be its “intangible wealth” – wealth that arises because of the people, and the institutions that support them.

In the US for example, natural capital is $15,000 per person, produced capital is $80,000 and intangible capital a whopping $418,000 – so intangible wealth is over 80% of the country’s total wealth.

Some countries even have a negative intangible wealth – that simply means the intangible stuff actually destroys wealth. Countries such as Nigeria, Algeria and Syria have negative intangible wealth; countries such as Russia, Venezuela and Congo have very low positive intangible wealth figures.

The top ten countries in terms of intangible wealth are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, the United States, Germany, Japan, Austria, Norway, France, Belgium-Luxembourg.

What’s the main difference the countries with high intangible wealth figures and those with low or negative intangible wealth figures? In a word, freedom.

In my book, I make the point that freedom results in health. From the World Bank study, it appears that freedom results in wealth too.

(Please email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com, and also visit my website, cvdhruve.com)

Monday, October 01, 2007

"Managers More Interested In Power Than People"

Not that it's going to come as news to you, but here's an article in HRM Guide that confirms what you knew anyway: "It is clear from the findings that most people do not take the decision to move into a managerial position because they gain satisfaction from people development activities."

(Please email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com, and also visit my website, cvdhruve.com)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

General who investigated Abu Ghraib suffers career dead-end

Antonio Taguba was the general who investigated the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq. A New Yorker article stated that Taguba himself became a casualty of Abu Ghraib, because he brought things out in the open - in short, because he simply did his job.

The report said, "A few weeks after his report became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait, was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with Abizaid [John Abizaid was then head of Centcom]. Abizaid’s driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: “You and your report will be investigated.”

The report quoted Taguba as saying, “I’d been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.”

The article states that Taguba's career suffered after that. In short, Taguba suffered from the usual dictatorship system response to an unwanted truth - shoot the messenger.

(Please email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com, and also visit my website, cvdhruve.com)

US army officer asks for for future generals to be evaluated by subordinates

In a stinging article titled "A failure in generalship", Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an active duty commander in Iraq, says, "Different military and civilian leaders in the two conflicts [Vietnam and Iraq] produced similar results. To understand how the U.S. could face defeat at the hands of a weaker insurgent enemy for the second time in a generation, we must look at the structural influences that produce our general officer corps."

In other words, Yingling is saying the system was the same in both cases, and that something needs to be done to fix the system. Yingling calls for a 360 degree evaluation before promotions are made:

"Congress should require the armed services to implement 360-degree evaluations for field-grade and flag officers. Junior officers and noncommissioned officers are often the first to adapt because they bear the brunt of failed tactics most directly. Junior leaders have valuable insights regarding the effectiveness of their leaders, but the current promotion system excludes these judgments. Incorporating subordinate and peer reviews into promotion decisions for senior leaders would produce officers more willing to adapt to changing circumstances, and less likely to conform to outmoded practices."

I encourage you to read the full article.

(Please email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com, and also visit my website, cvdhruve.com)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bad bosses get ahead

"Be a bad boss and get ahead" - this article quotes an Australian university study and says, "the local workplace tyrant was either never censured or was promoted for domineering ways."

The study's authors, Anthony Don Erickson, Ben Shaw and Zha Agabe of Bond University in Australia, said, "The leaders above them who did nothing, who rewarded and promoted bad leaders ... represent an additional problem."

As always, flip the word 'leader' to 'dictator', and everything will make sense: "The dictators above them who did nothing, who rewarded and promoted bad dictators ... "

(email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Self appraisals

There was an interesting article recently in the Times newspaper (London) on the issue of self-appraisals. According to the article, staff turnover dropped quite a bit at one company after they used self-appraisals.

This is not surprising because self-appraisals effectively take power away from the boss (effectively getting rid of the boss). No wonder people are happier and stay on.

(Email me your comments at chetan@cvdhruve.com)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My new website

I've created a new website at http://cvdhruve.com - please take a look. Also, you can now reach me at chetan@cvdhruve.com

You can also reach me at my gmail ID, ie cvdhruve@gmail.com

Monday, March 12, 2007

Bob Sutton's book - the No Asshole Rule

Bob Sutton is a Stanford University professor who's written a book called, "The No Asshole Rule". The book is about, well, assholes at work. Although I haven't read the book itself, I've read an excerpt on the 800CEOREAD website.

Sutton says, "[S]tudies show that many workplaces are plagued by "interpersonal moves" that leave people feeling threatened and demeaned, which are often directed by more powerful people at less powerful people."

Sutton says that it's usually powerful people - especially bosses - who are horrible towards their subordinates. He quotes the example of a pregnant female employee, whose boss began timing her visits to the bathroom, and then counted these minutes against her lunch or break times. You can read more examples on the 800CEO read site. (If you want to buy the book, here's the 800CEOREAD link and here's the Amazon link)

If you think that subordinates can be equally nasty to bosses, the reality is that this happens very rarely. Sutton says, "Much of this nastiness is directed by superiors to their subordinates (estimates run from 50% to 80%), with somewhat less between coworkers of roughly the same rank (estimates run from 20% to 50%), and "upward" nastiness- where underlings take on their superiors-occurs in less than 1% of cases." [emphasis mine]

Sutton identifies twelve "Everyday Actions That Assholes Use":

1. Personal insults
2. Invading one's "personal territory"
3. Uninvited physical contact
4. Threats and intimidation, both verbal and nonverbal
5. "Sarcastic jokes" and "teasing" used as insult delivery systems
6. Withering e-mail flames
7. Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
8. Public shaming or "status degradation" rituals
9. Rude interruptions
10. Two-faced attacks
11. Dirty looks
12. Treating people as if they are invisible

From what I've read, Sutton's book is excellent in that it has brought out the issue of nasty people - particularly bosses - into the open. Coming from a Stanford professor who is willing to use such a direct and hard-hitting title for his book, his words carry a lot of weight and credibility. Lesser mortals would be considered wimps or simply trouble-makers. Sutton is due a huge amount of credit for calling a spade a spade - something that's rare in the rarefied world of academia.

If you've read my manifesto, you know already know that I state that it's the system at fault, rather than individuals. Having said that, I feel the work of people such as Sutton is complementary to what I'm saying. We need both - a good system and good people.

(email me your comments - cvdhruve@gmail.com)

Friday, March 09, 2007

My book

If you've been wondering why I'd stopped blogging, the answer is that I've been writing a book titled, well, "Why your boss is programmed to be a dictator." It's published by Cyan Communications (London), and will be out in May. You can pre-order the book at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Your-Boss-Programmed-Dictator/dp/0462099024/sr=11-1/qid=1166779907/ref=sr_11_1/026-5263225-9467601

(comments - email me at cvdhruve@gmail.com)