Great Moments in Modern Management: The Mailchimp Move

September 28, 2021

I like the phrase “high school science club management methods.” No one else seems to care. I spotted a exemplary management maneuver. “Mailchimp Employees Are Furious After the Company’s Founders Promised to Never Sell, Withheld Equity, and Then Sold It for $12 Billion.” The “it” refers to the company, not “the equity,” but, hey, what does one expect from a mash up of Silicon Valley “real” news and German quality control. You will have to pay to read the original story. Money is needed for copy editors or a BMW lease.

I noted this passage:

The founders told anyone who would listen they would own Mailchimp until they died and bragged about turning down multiple offers. “It was part of the company lore that they would never sell,” said a former Mailchimp employee, who like others interviewed for this story were granted anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss sensitive internal matters. “Employees were indoctrinated with this narrative.”
The two founders did sell.

Well, what do you know? A high flying online email marketing outfit said one thing and did another. Gee, that rarely happens.

I wish the HSSCMM would catch on. The methods are proliferating like snorts in the high school lunch room when someone mentions “the prom.” Oh, those mail monkeys all grown up!

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2021

Google: More Management of Sensitive Issues

September 24, 2021

Some MBA engineers are driven purely by greed without regard for their fellow humans. When Google formed its parent company, Alphabet Inc., they changed their company motto from “Don’t be evil” to “Do the right thing.” However, Google has proven it does not do the right thing when it comes to respecting user privacy and pursuing the almighty dollar. Google has violated user privacy multiple ways, while they tried to establish a market in China despite the country’s abhorrent human rights record.

The Daily Hunt explains that, “Alphabet Inc’s Google Gave User Data To Hong Kong Authorities Despite Vow.” The Hong Kong Free Press reported that Google gave the Hong Kong government user data, despite promising not to do so. Google said that these reports were actually stop bad actors and crime:

“Alphabet Inc’s Google complied with three of 43 government requests received between July and December 2019, the company told HKFP. One request was for an emergency disclosure involving a credible threat to life, Google said, while the others involved human trafficking and were supported by search warrants granted by the court. They were not related to national security and no user content data was shared, the company added.”

Other technology companies, including Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, said they would no longer comply with Hong Kong government data requests, because China imposed a national security law that violates civil rights.

Google could be telling the truth when it comes to preventing human trafficking and saving human lives, but they could also comply with the Chinese government in order to gain favor in its technology market.

Huge corporations pretend to be ethical, but its usually lip service. Money and the threat of bad publicity has more sway than violating civil liberties and human rights. Google is not any different.

Whitney Grace, September 24, 2021

Google and Its Informed Approach to Compensating Employees: Just Pay Less

September 23, 2021

Google does have unethical business practices, including violating user privacy, discriminating treat of ethnic minorities and women in its hiring activities and work environment, and attempting to establish a business relationship with China. Another infraction to add to Google’s growing list is: “Google Underpaid Thousands Of International ‘Shadow Workers,’ Violating Labor Laws Around The World, Report Reveals” says Business Insider.

Google employs over 900 temporary workers in Poland, France, Netherlands, Germany, India, Ireland, and the UK. Pay-parity laws in Asia and Europe require companies to pay full-time and temporary workers the same wage if they essentially do the same job. Google underpaid its workers in violation of these laws.

Google’s compliance department discovered the error, but did not want to bring attention to the issue. Instead Google raised wages for new employees in order to avoid financial, reputational, and legal problems. Google is still attempting to save face:

“While the team hasn’t increased the comparator rate benchmarks for some years, actual pay rates for temporary staff have increased numerous times in that period,’ Spyro Karetsos, Google’s chief compliance officer, said in a statement to Insider. Most temporary staff are paid significantly more than the comparator rates.

‘Nevertheless, it’s clear that this process has not been handled consistently with the high standards to which we hold ourselves as a company,’ he added. ‘We’re doing a thorough review, and we’re committed to identifying and addressing any pay discrepancies that the team has not already addressed. And we’ll be conducting a review of our compliance practices in this area. In short, we’re going to figure out what went wrong here, why it happened, and we’re going to make it right.’”

Google certainly has the funds to make it right. Google should be treating all of its employees, no matter their status, equality. If Google had admitted the mistake, they would have looked like the bigger person, been criticized or praised, then the world would have forgotten the incident. Now Google can add this to their list of personnel management achievements.

High school behavior? Intentional disregard for employee rights? We don’t know.

Whitney Grace, September 23, 2021

Google and Record Keeping: The Spin Method

September 16, 2021

A number of years ago, I was working in Washington, DC, when I heard chatter in a meeting. Elsewhere in the same building a Labor Department group was trying to figure out why Google didn’t have employment records. My team and I were working in a unit of the Capitol Police and the information elicited a chuckle. Who knew if the info about Google’s inability to provide employment data was accurate or just a poke at the online ad vendor.

I thought about this anecdote when I read “Revealed: Google Illegally Underpaid Thousands of Workers across Dozens of Countries.” The write up explains in what seems a truthful way:

Google executives have been aware since at least May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with local laws in the UK, Europe and Asia that mandate temporary workers be paid equal rates to full-time employees performing similar work, internal Google documents and emails reviewed by the Guardian show. But rather than immediately correct the errors, the company dragged its feet for more than two years, the documents show, citing concern about the increased cost to departments that rely heavily on temporary workers, potential exposure to legal claims, and fear of negative press attention.

“Gee, we don’t have employment data” flashed across my mind. If the write up is accurate, today’s thought is “Gee, we can just try to hide this misstep.”

Seems as if there might be a pattern. I am not sure, but I do recognize selective memory, situational corporate governance, and ignoring rules and regulations.

Gee, what a surprise after a quarter century of regulatory indifference. Hard to believe? Nope. Just institutionalized behavior for a digital country perhaps?

Stephen E Arnold, September 16, 2021

Forgetting the Lessons of the Phalanx: Zooming In Does Not Work for Some

September 14, 2021

I read a write up from the Android mobile of Captain Obvious. The title? Here she be: “Study of Microsoft Employees Shows How Remote Work Puts Productivity and Innovation at Risk.” Ground breaking!

The article explains without a trace of Saturday Night Live humor:

A new study finds that Microsoft’s companywide shift to remote work has hurt communication and collaboration among different business groups inside the company, threatening employee productivity and long-term innovation.

To make the academic goodness of the report even more credible, the write up explains that the research report was:

published Thursday morning by Microsoft researchers in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. It coincides with Microsoft’s announcement that employees won’t be returning to the office Oct. 4 as previously expected.

I circled this quote nestled in the article:

The desire of employees to have both flexibility and connection with others is what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls the “Great Paradox.” The company is also announcing new features in Teams, LinkedIn and other products meant to address some of the challenges revealed by the data.

War fighters employing the reliable phalanx figured out that Zooming in to a battle was not a reliable way to win. Teaming in, even with new features, is unlikely to yield better results.

Perhaps the lack of togetherness at Microsoft makes life easier for those exploiting the security peculiarities of Microsoft systems and software? No, hold that thought, please. Microsoft’s Windows 11 is a Covid era product. The Microsoft Exchange Server and Azure issues are from PC time; that is, the pre Covid period.

Perhaps the already present communications and togetherness issues have been present for many years. The work from home approach just amplified them.

Paradoxical? Nope. Management acting as a 50000 watt AM radio station. Static, anyone? Will Microsoft employees do the Thermopylae thing to defeat Microsoft’s antagonists? Sure, just via Zoom and one hopes a functioning Teams with extra features.

Stephen E Arnold, September 14, 2021

IBM: The Master of Motivation Sets a High Bar for Professionalism

September 2, 2021

I sure don’t know if the information in this story is accurate:

IBM Sued Again by Its Own Sales Staff: IT Giant Accused of Going Back on Commission Payments Promise. When Is a Contract Not a Contract? When It’s an Incentive Plan Letter

The headline is catchy but the message seems like one I have seen before.

I noted this statement in the article:

according to this latest lawsuit and many others, IBM does not keep its payment commitments. Since 2018, the complaint says, Big Blue has successfully argued in court that its IPL is not a contract and it does not have a contractual obligation to pay specified commissions. As IBM doesn’t have any other contract with its California-based salespeople who earn commissions, the company maintains it doesn’t have to pay them what it said it would pay them. Predictably, this has prompted sales reps to sue to recover what they contend they’re owed.

The source article cites laws and regulations.

My thought is that IBM is taking steps to motivate its sales professionals to take action. What specific action? Looking for a new job perhaps? Looking for a lawyer? Sharing details about Big Blue with those interested in fading technology giants’ management methods?

Let’s ask IBM Watson, shall we? Will the answer be, “Let’s exploit the Pavlovian and insecure sales professionals”?

Stephen E Arnold, September 2, 2021

Management Moments: Googley Decider Methods

August 27, 2021

We wonder whether writer Bernard Marr has been watching the same Google we have. His piece at the SmartDataCollective declares “Analytics at Google: Great Example of Data-Driven Decision-Making.” Who looks at the company’s handling of the Timnit Gebru matter, the series of employee protests, the discontinued Town Hall meetings, and the management transition at DeepMind and thinks these are indicators of an intelligent company?

Without a shred of irony, Marr uses an example from the HR department to illustrate his point. Google once wondered whether managers were actually necessary and implemented Project Oxygen to find out. Using data from performance reviews, employee surveys, manager interviews, and employees’ “Great Managers Award” nominations, the company discovered the mind-blowing reality—bad managers make for bad results, but good managers can make a positive difference. Imagine that. Google assessed what made for bad or good managers and implemented certain policies based on the results. Marr summarizes:

“An Intelligent Company

Google is a great example of how good decision-making should be supported by good data and facts. Google clearly followed the five steps I outline in my book ‘The Intelligent Company: Five steps to success with Evidence-based Management’:

1. Defining the objectives and information needs: ‘Do managers matter?’ and ‘What makes a good manager within Google?’

2. Collecting the right data: using existing data from performance reviews and employee surveys and creating new data sets from the award nominations and manager’s interviews.

3. Analyzing the data and turning it into insights: simply plotting of the results, regression analysis and text analysis.

4. Presenting the Information: new communications to the managers

5. Making evidence-based decisions: revising the training, measuring performance in line with the findings, introducing new feedback mechanisms.”

All that is true as far as it goes, but that scope is quite narrow. Surely Marr could find a better company to hitch his book’s wagon to. Perhaps one with a reputation for making good decisions regarding its workers.

Cynthia Murrell, August 27, 2021

Google and Personnel Management: Myth or Mess Up?

August 25, 2021

I am not sure if “Google’s Payments Team Is Seeing and Exodus of Executives and Employees” is spot on or wide of the mark. (This chunk of management memorabilia will cost you; the story is paywalled.) Google is an exemplary commercial enterprise: Profitable, profitable, profitable. Did I mention profitable? It follows that its approach to personnel management is top of the class. Summa cum laude territory.

From this write up I learned:

Dozens of employees have left Google’s payments team in recent
months.

And what about leaving with know how?

The stream of exits by top talent and recent reorg present another challenge for Google as it tries to get ahead in the digital payment space and launch a bank account integrated into Google Pay.

No problem. No myth, no mess up. Google has steady hands on the controls. What could be better preparation for taking on Amazon:

Under the watch of senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan, Ready has made a bigger ecommerce push in an effort to take on Amazon, which has included partnerships with Shopify, Square and others.

Just so Googley. Management excellence in action.

Stephen E Arnold, August 25, 2021

Apple: Change Is a Constant in the Digital Orchard

August 18, 2021

Do you remember how plans would come together at the last minute when you were in high school. Once the gaggle met up, plans would change again. I do. Who knew what was going on? When my parents asked me, “Where are you going?” I answered directly: “I don’t know yet.”

Apple sparked a moment of déjà vu for me when I read “Apple Alters Planned New System for Detecting Child Sex Abuse Images over Privacy Concerns.” The write up explained that the high school science club member have allowed events to shape their plans.

Even more interesting is what the new course of action will be; to wit:

The tech giant has said the system will now only hunt for images that have been flagged by clearinghouses in multiple countries.

How’s this going to work? Mode, median, mean, row vector value smoothing, other? The write up states:

Apple had declined to say how many matched images on a phone or a computer it would take before the operating system notifies them for a human review and possible reporting to authorities.

Being infused with the teen aged high school science club approach to decision making, some give the impression of being confused or disassociated from the less intelligent herd.

I have some questions about how these “clearinghouses in multiple countries” will become part of the Apple method. But as interested as I am in who gets to provide inputs, I am more interested in those thresholds and algorithms.

I don’t have to worry, one of the Apple science club managers apparently believes that the core of the system will return 99 percent or greater accuracy.

That’s pretty accurate because that’s six sigma territory for digital content in digital content land. Amazing.

But that’s the teen spirit which made high school science club decisions about what to do to prank the administrators so much fun. What happens if one chows down on too many digital apples? Oh, oh.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2021

Apple and the New Worker Bee Buzz

August 16, 2021

Ah, the good old days. One would post a job, interview candidates, hire a person, and the individual would do what the company said. No more. It seems that the new worker bees want to buzz, clump, explore, and sting when a work task is not congruent with [a] world view, [b] social agenda, [c] perception of truth and justice, or [d] all of the above.

Google still sparkles with the brilliance of its management procedures; example: the Dr. Timnit Gebru method. Amazon has some struggles; example: managing the company’s union activity. Even Microsoft has demonstrated its acumen with the print nightmare thing – three, four times?

I noted “Apple Faces Internal Revolt over Plan to Scan Users’ iPhones.” The write up points out:

A backlash over Apple’s move to scan customer phones and computers for child abuse images has grown to include employees speaking out internally, a notable turn in a company famed for its secretive culture, as well as provoking intensified protests from leading technology policy groups. Apple employees have flooded an Apple internal Slack channel with more than 800 messages on the plan announced a week ago…

I think Apple is playing catch up, but the allegedly accurate information in “Apple Acknowledges Confusion over Child Safety Updates” says:

Apple is ready to acknowledge the controversy over its child safety updates, but it sees this as a matter of poor messaging — not bad policy.

Close but no cigar.

The mild flap (well, maybe a large scale fire storm is more than a “flap”?) illustrates these modern management precepts:

  1. Operate from the position of god mode. By definition, the words are those of an omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent Super Mario who knows everything before it happens most of the time. (Hey, anyone can slip on a banana peel.)
  2. Convert the so-called employee revolt and confusion with a bad prose passage. Sorry, that doesn’t work for me.
  3. Illustrate what I call the “Google customer centric approach”; that is, who cares?

Net net: The high school science club management method has been implemented with a style that probably elicits the Sin of Envy from outfits like NSO Group.

Stephen E Arnold, August 16, 2021

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