Matt HealeySaturday,1 December 2012

The Snap:

In most corporate cultures the premium is on not rocking the boat. To get ahead, you have to get along with almost everyone. One of the reasons that “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is popular is because it is a fairy tale, and not even close to connected to reality. The person who is willing to says the emperor has no clothes is usually fired way before he gets anywhere close to the emperor.

The Download:

I admit it, I am a volatile, high energy person. The type of person that is usually labeled “not a team player.” The reason for this is that I have a tendency to say what I think, regardless of who is in the audience. At my former employer, I referred to a Group VP as a “fucking coward.” Now at least he was in the room when I said it so no one could say I was talking behind his back. In retrospect, I would have said it again because it was what I thought. He had the opportunity to do a great presentation on the costs of constructing data centers, and he would not do it because he was unwilling to carry $10,000 around. The idea was to have a 1 sq ft floor tile on the table next to the podium and put cash on it for each expense. Construction – add $x,xxx thousand, Servers – add $x,xxx, etc. By the end of the presentation he would have a floor tile with approximately $10,000 on it. I thought it would be a great visual.

The thing is that when you get to some companies, they kind of know that they need some irreverent thinking, so that the senior people are challenged. Decisions are questioned and not blindly followed. The problem is that in many companies, that attitude, despite the apparent recognition, is not really accepted. It is shut down. Usually quickly. So when someone like me arrives in the company, we often hear “We need more people like you,” as I have several times. The problem is that you don’t really believe it. If you did, you would not smack us as often as you do. If you think that your company needs people that think differently and will challenge the status quo, then you will never get them to work for you, because your culture is way too harsh on people who challenge.

Hat Tips:

The Emperor’s New Clothes, Dilbert on Yes Men, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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