Google Management: What Happens When Science Club Management Methods Emulate Secret Societies?

January 27, 2021

A secret society is one with special handshakes, initiation routines, and a code of conduct which prohibits certain behavior. Sometimes even a secret society has a trusted, respected member whose IQ and personal characteristics are what might be called an “issue.” My hunch is that the write up “Google Hired a Lawyer to Probe Bullying Claims about DeepMind Cofounder Mustafa Suleyman and Shifted His Role” may be a good example — if the real news is indeed accurate — of mostly adult judgment. [The linked document resides behind a paywall … because money.]

As I understand the information in this write up, uber wizard Mustafa Suleyman allegedly engaged in behavior the Googlers found out of bounds. Note, however, that the alleged perpetrator was not terminated. Experts in smart software are tough to locate and hire. Mr. Suleyman was given a lateral arabesque. First defined by Laurence J. Peter is that some management issues can be resolved by shifts to a comparable level of the hierarchy just performing different management or job functions. A poor manager could be encouraged to accept a position as chief quality officer in an organization’s new office in Alert, in the Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut, Canada. (Bring a Google sweater.)

DeepMind is known for crushing a human Go player, who may now be working as a delivery person for Fanji Braised Meat in Preserved Sauce on Zhubashi in Xian, China. The company developed software able to teach itself the game of checkers. Allegedly DeepMind performed magic with protein folding calculations, but it seems to have come up short on problems for solving death and providing artificial general intelligence for a user of Google calendar.

These notable technical accomplishments may have produced a sinkhole brimming with red ink. The 2019 Google financials indicate that about $1 billion in debt has been written off. Revenue appears to be a bit of a challenge for the Googlers working on technology that will generate sustainable revenue for Google’s next 20 years.,

And what about those management methods channeling how high school science clubs operated in the 1950s:

  1. Generate fog to make it difficult to discern exactly what happened and why Google’s in house people professionals could not gather the information about alleged bullying? Why a lawyer? Why not a private investigative group? There are some darned good ones in merrie olde Angleland.
  2. Mixed signals are emitted. If something actionable occurred, why not let the aggrieved go through appropriate legal and employee oversight channels to resolve the matter? Answer: Let someone else have the responsibility. The science club does science, not human like stuff.
  3. The dodge-deflect-apologize pattern is evident to me in rural Kentucky. How long will this adolescent tactic remain functional?

To sum up, the science club did something. What is fuzzy? Why is fuzzy? Keep folks guessing maybe? What will those bright sprouts in the high school science club do next? Put a cow on top of Big Ben?

Stephen E Arnold, January 27, 2021

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