Nonsense At Work

#112: October 2016 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift


October 2016

Dumber Biased Leadership Always Frowns

The smarter your phone, the dumber you are

protect-from-joyDid you know that the smarter your phone, the dumber you are? I didn’t know that either until I made it up. Even though I made it up, I suspect there is some truth in it.

The more we rely on technology, the less we bother to think for ourselves. The less we think, the more our ability to reason withers away. The less we reason, the more we blindly rely on technology. The more we trust technology, the less often we do basic sanity checks. Without basic sanity checks, errors creep in, mistakes happen and failure follows.

Not so long ago technology was held in check by a skeptical generation. I once watched an older boss add a budget column with a calculator, frown, and check the result by adding the column mentally. He would never have blindly steered wherever his GPS instructed.

Do I have a smart phone? Of course I do!


Focus on failures makes me biased to survive

outcomes-my-mouthTalking about smart (or dumb), not too long ago a whole stadium of speakers rolled into town. I wasn’t there to meet them because they appeared to be successful. If they were here to tell me how they had failed, I might have been more interested.

You see, I agree with Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. He recently said that their success is largely due to luck.  In my case, I attribute my lack of failure to luck. Like my failure to be eaten by that lioness who charged me.

My success at not being eaten now contributes to what is called ‘survivorship bias’. We tend to exclude failures from evaluations simply because they no longer exist. Instead, we focus on successful people. We swallow their recipes for success while ignoring what caused many others to fail.

Me? I learn so much more from people who have failed, and even from those who did not survive. As long as their stories did, that is.


Please pass on the leadership mantle in better shape

lightness-spiritIn the good old days, before my first big un-success, I had a company car. Company cars have magical properties. They go much faster than normal cars; they reverse faster, brake harder, and jump obstacles easier. The list goes on.

Except, that is, the company car I was given. It wasn’t the car’s fault, nor the company’s fault, nor my mother’s fault, as Freud would have it. It was my father’s fault.

My father taught me from an early age to look after my possessions. Fair enough. But there is more. He made it clear that if I borrowed anything from anyone, I should give it back in better condition than I received it. No wonder my company car lost its magical abilities.

I know this is a leap, but I wonder whether magic would happen if leaders aimed to pass on the mantle they borrowed in better shape than they received it.


Not taking a decision is always a lack of courage

DecisionsWith or without leadership, have you ever wondered why decisions take so long in your organization? I know, I know, the obvious answer is a lack of information. Actually, that is the common excuse.

Here are the two real reasons. The first one is a lack of courage. Consider the difference between making and taking a decision. Making a decision is the whole process of reaching a point where you are ready to take the decision. When you take something, it’s yours. So, once you take a decision, you own it. Whereas if you are making a decision, well, you could stretch it out indefinitely.

The other reason has to do with the hierarchy of power and authority. The steeper the pyramid, the more people get involved in a decision, which is simply another way of spreading the risk and the blame.

Oh, you’re right. That’s also just a lack of courage.


Be warned, your smiley face can trigger my glaring frown

angryI’ve always wondered why those happy-clappy people annoy me so much. You know the type I mean – always smiling and drooling at the joys of life. To them, every day is a fantastic day, every thought a positive one, every mistake a learning opportunity.

I think I’ve found the answer to my irritation. Instead of cheering me up and sweeping me along in the wake of their good mood, they depress me. That’s because their gung ho attitude and positive statements clash with my less rosy world view.

Researchers have shown that it can back fire on you to make positive statements about yourself which you don’t really believe. I think the same happens when my nonsense detector is triggered by someone sprouting can-do affirmations to boost his aura.

In other words, your happy mood and smiley face can actually trigger my bad mood and glaring frown. You have been warned.



Do you also have a smart phone?



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