High School Science Club Management: The Microsoft GitHub Example

January 18, 2021

Anyone who reads Beyond Search knows that I eschew the old saws of management consulting. No Druckerisms here. I go for more evocative terminology such as HSSCMM or high school science club management methods. The high school science club was the last refuge for those who were not “into” the flow of athletes, elected school representatives, and doing just enough to pass a class in home economics. Nope, the HSSC was THE place for those who knew better than anyone else what was important, knew better how to accomplish a task, and knew better than anyone the wonderfulness of such an esteemed organization.

Thus, a HSSCMM is a rare thing.

I believe I have spotted an example ably described in “GitHub Admits Significant Error of Judgment…”  I would point out that GitHub is a Microsoft property and has been since late 2018, sufficient time for the outstanding culture of the Redmond giant to diffuse into the code repository/publishing entity.

The “error” concerns a knee jerk response to a person’s post using a forbidden word. After the employee was terminated, others in the science club management team decided that the dismissal was a misstep. Bigger or smaller than the SolarWinds’ modest toe bump? Who knows.

But, by golly, the Microsoft-GitHub science club alums convened and took a decision: Fire the personnel manager (sometimes called a people manager or a human resources leader).

The management precepts I derive from this fascinating chain of events are:

  • Be deciders. Don’t dally. Then without too much hand waving reverse course. The science club precept is that lesser entities will not recall the change of direction.
  • Seek scapegoats. Use the Teflon approach so that that which is thrown slides upon the lesser entity, in this case, the amusing people manager function.
  • Avoid linking the actions of one part of the science club to the larger science club of which the smaller is merely a decorative ornament; that is, omit the fact that GitHub is owned by Microsoft.

I may have these precepts in a poorly formed state, but I think this GitHub admits article provides a provocative case example. I wonder if Mr. Drucker would agree.

Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2021


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