I’ve been enjoying the book What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management by Jeffrey Pfeffer. Pfeffer is a professor of organizational behavior at the Standord Graduate School of Business and former columnist for Business 2.0.
Pfeffer argues that most poor business choices arise when leaders do one of three things:
- Fail to consider the unintended consequences of their actions.
- Rely on naive theories of human behavior (such as “the great jackass method” [that’s Stephen Covey’s term — not mine!] of the carrot and the stick).
- Ignore obvious answers and make things more complicated than they really are.
(As an aside — the resemblance here to the cause of bad decisions in economics and politics is quite interesting, although I don’t know yet if Pfeffer makes the connection.)
To test your application of these concepts, here are a few questions from the “pop quiz” on the back cover:
Are you concerned that your employees are spending too much time surfing the web? You shouldn’t be. By monitoring their downtime, you’re destroying their trust — and ultimately hurting your business.
Your bottom line looks like trouble. Where can you save money? Don’t touch your employees’ benefits. Short-term financial trouble is no excuse for cuts. You’ll pay the human cost in the long-run.
Your employees work long hours. Does all that time really pay? Hours-in does not equal good work-out. The absence of time with family and friends is one of the reasons U.S. health care costs are soaring, including employer health costs.