Management Follies: High School Science Clubism at Scale!

November 22, 2022

Several years ago, I floated the idea of a “high school science club management method.” A big time “real” journalist said, “That’s wrong. There is a bro mafia management style.”

I said, “Yeah, you are right. I paid the coffee bill and vamoosed. I wanted to bide my time until I had a few rock solid cases of the HSSCMM or high school science club management method. I am speaking from experience because I was in my high school science club. I was one of the three musketeers who liberated the morning public address announcement with Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire.”

Yep, a half century ago a band of merry teens (both young men and a couple of young women) met weekly to do science like the PA address thing. Why? I have given this great thought over the last 64 years, and here are the three main reasons we pursued our high value projects.

  1. We believed that we were special because we earned top grades, accrued honors (one of our club’s members published a short article in a peer-reviewed astronomy journal and yours truly had a story published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch for which I was paid $10. Net net: We thought we were really smart.
  2. We believed that we knew exactly what to do in any circumstance life in a Midwestern corn and factory town could plop in our path. We have confidence, which I now understand is near fatal hubris.
  3. We conducted ourselves as if our world was the one, true world: Math, science, logic, etc. etc.

Over the years, I have interacted with a wide range of companies. I have watched the HSSCMM move from the weird world of immature and naïve teens into the mainstream of business, leadership, and — dare I say it — techno worship.

Now back to the real journalist dismissing HSSCMM. That bright individual was incorrect. The HSSCMM is the driving force of several fascinating business dramas now unfolding in real time. These are real people (still locked in the teen year immaturity hormone rush), and having a profound impact on families, children, culture, and the way people perceive the world.

Let’s take a look at the three modern dramas, which if we were in Athens in 440 BCE, would be the stuff for the modern version of Oedipus at Colonus called “Dorks of Silicon Valley” or a bop variant of Women of Trachis named “Bros of Business.”

The first is the Twitter hellscape and the space Karen calling the shots with HSSCMM spins. A Silicon Valley infused article in the Verge provides basic information of a consequence of an informed management decision. To keep the story short, lots of people are just quitting. So the lead Tweeter is shutting down the company for a cou8ple of days. Brilliant cost savings and publicity in one fell swoop. That’s a hallmark of the HSSCMM: Act without considering consequences.

The second is the FTX thing. The estimable Bloomberg has covered the story with slightly more thoroughness than the news organization did its story about fiddled motherboards. I am not going to review this case example because I am not sure about what’s fact and what’s fiction. It does seem as though adding some chemical compounds to a mathematical experiment produced consequential results. Ah, who lost their retirement savings? Too bad. The events appear to follow a path my science club took when we poured calcium carbine and concentrated hydrochloric acid into a lab table drain. Yep, someone ignited the resulting gas. Exciting and no one got expelled.

The third is the Amazon termination of a mere 10,000 humanoids. You can get a sense of what goes into a brilliant and logical decision to cut costs in a recent CNBC report.  The reality is the science club or Amazon carpetland. Those not walking on squishy floor coverings cannot be expected to understand. A basic precept of the HSSCMM is that no one in the science club really, really cares.

I am tempted to step back and offer a few thoughts about the broader implications of allowing the HSSCMM to dominate a major part of current business. I won’t. If you read some of the 12,000 posts we have published in Beyond Search since 2008, you can figure out that the fixes are going to be difficult because no one wants to confront the naïve teener mentality which has implemented businesses which leave scorched earth and burned lives.

Yapping and hand waving won’t solve the problem. I am too old to care. I won’t even remind the big time “real” journalist that it is HSSCMM, not bro stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, November 22, 2022


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