Sometimes a title conveys all you need to know to judge something. For instance, I heard that Toby Keith approached Willie Nelson at an awards show and asked if Nelson would consider helping him with a new song Keith had written. Nelson told Keith to send the music over to him and he would consider it. He then asked Keith, "By the way, what’s the name of the song?" Keith replied, "Whiskey For My Men, And Beer For My Horses." Nelson immediately backtracked and told Keith there was no need to send the music to him – just count him in. With a title like that, Nelson knew that it had to be a great song.
I had just such a Willie Nelson moment when I came across a piece written by Bob Sutton, from Stanford University. As much as I bad mouth academia, as soon as I saw the title, I knew that Stanford University had made an important contribution to management. The title: Management Advice: Which 90% Is Crap?
If you have any doubts as to whether it is worth a fifteen minutes of your time to read, consider the following quote:
"The Harvard Business Review, for example, publishes a list of ‘Breakthrough Business Ideas’ every year. I read through it carefully each year, and I’ve never actually seen a new idea on their list. Sometimes they are old ideas wrapped in new language (like emotional intelligence) but that is as far as they go. Between Jeff Pfeffer and I, we have made the list three times, and I confess that none of our ideas were new, let alone a breakthrough. Take for example, my alleged ‘Breakthrough Idea’ from their 2004 list: ‘The No Asshole Rule’ which asserted that organizations should try to avoid hiring jerks, and when people act like jerks they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. The only ‘breakthrough’ I know of associated with this rule (which my father first told me when I was nine years old) was that HBR had the nerve to publish ‘asshole’ in its respectable pages (which I applaud)."
His description of the logic behind adopting a management practice because all of the Fortune 500 have adopted it: "Eat shit. 100 billion flies can’t be wrong."
And all of this is from a Stanford professor – to my delight and amazement.
You really ought to read this. In fact, copyrights be damned, you ought to make a copy of it and nail it to your CEO’s office door.