Are you familiar with Lucy Kellaway? She’s a much-respected British journo at the Financial Times, whose column on management is a must-read.
She recently tore a wildly successful British businessman a new one, devoting an entire column (ouch!) to his inane pomposity in publishing a book of his “rules”:
Ray Dalio is deluded, insensitive, emotionally illiterate, simplistic, breathtakingly smug, weird and plain wrong.
Harsh words, but I know the founder of one of the world’s most successful hedge funds will welcome them. The Bridgewater chief has just made a list of his top 300 rules for life and number 31 is to write down the weaknesses of others. Number 11 is never to say anything about a person you would not say to them directly, while number 22 is to “get over” fretting about whether comments are positive or negative. All that matters in Dalioland is whether they are accurate or inaccurate.
These rules are contained in the most curious management document I have ever come across. Simply entitled “Principles”, it is being handed out to staff at Bridgewater to help them be as successful as their boss. It is also being passed gleefully from pillar to post on the internet.
I love her taking the piss out of this guy, who probably earns more in the time it took me to post this than I’ll make in my lifetime. Tant pis.
Jack Welch is one of many ex-CEOs who write best-selling books, persuaded — like this guy — their bons mots are going to transform our miserable lives. If you read business books, and I do, occasionally — as hungry as anyone for smart, helpful advice — you know how many of them are deeply, annoyingly, self-righteously dull, stupid and eagerly swallowed up by people who use “impact” as a verb or say things like “This robust suite of products is mission-critical”.
Just because you’ve “created shareholder value” and made big fat profits for your company doesn’t mean your in-house brilliance will translate to the rest of the world, who are not actually breathlessly awaiting your next PowerPoint. (A lesson Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, both corporate legends now entering the bare-knuckled fray of politics, are learning as well.)
It can come as a terrible shock when those who are not your underlings find your “wisdom” risible.
Which business book did you find a total waste of cash?
Any one you did like?
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