High School Science Club Management Goes Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

August 17, 2022

I read  the stories about Facebook and Google trying to manage their paid humanoids. Both companies, not surprisingly, are pulling tips from the “Universal Guide to Running a High School Science Club” and its Annex 1: Never Do These Things. The two estimable companies skipped the Annex. Why read something at the back of a user manual. That’s for those who are smart, just not brilliant.

Among the tips in my copy of the Universal Guide was this one: “Never tell a fellow science club member to work harder.”

Another precept was: “Never tell a fellow science club member to quit if the alleged humanoid did not like what the president told them to do.

Both Facebook and Google appear to have pushed to the “work harder” and “go away” approach. Brilliant, right?

Even the Silicon Valley type of “real” news outfit Protocol published an article focusing on this management approach. “Don’t Be Meta or Google: How to Tell Workers They Need to Be More Productive”  has some management advice for the fellow travelers; to wit:

the idea that underperforming individuals are solely responsible for their companies’ large-scale financial troubles is probably inaccurate, and you don’t want your productivity pep talk to give that impression. Launching a companywide campaign to improve productivity is absolutely reasonable, as long as you’re not alienating employees in the process.

Yes, Harvard Business School, here we come!

I am not sure what’s crazier: The management methods of the high school science club or the faux-Drucker inputs from a “real” news Silicon Valley type online publication.

The write up adds:

Sharing a specific game plan to improve productivity is key to avoiding chaos.

Yes, is the corollary “sharing is caring”?

That method was not part of the Woodruff High School Science Club in Central Illinois. My fellow members believed themselves to be budding wizards. One of the best and brightest had his first date and ran the train signal. The train won. Not a best nor brightest moment as I recall.

“Management” was, in my opinion, a no show at some of the zippy Silicon Valley outfits for which I labored until I threw in the dead fish in 2013. The idea that the methods of a high school science club would contribute to management science would have been laughable about a decade ago. Now that Facebook and Google type outfits have to manage, the adolescent guidelines of the unread Annex seem oddly appropriate.

Had Google solved death, Mr. Drucker would be available to provide some management guidance to the “real news” and the Facebooks and Googles of the world. I am not sure “don’ts” work… at all.

Stephen E Arnold, August 17, 2022


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