Sunday, July 8, 2012

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: “The most Productive members of our society.”

Here's a phrase that pops whenever anyone mentions the fact that multi-millionaires pay half the tax rate of the middle class. “We shouldn't burden the most productive members of our society.” To these people I have to ask, “Where do you work? Because it isn't the same planet I'm on.”

In most American companies productivity and pay are not related. A few companies (Apple, Google, 3M) have gone out of their way to hire and reward super productive people. But most companies take extreme measures to keep the super-productive people out.

There are companies whose sole function is to discriminate against the “super-producers”. I should know I used to work for one.

In the mid 90s I worked for a Management Consulting Firm. One of the things we told small companies is to get rid of the “super-producers”. Those people who do the job of three or four employees. The reasoning was, “What if that person quits?” In a ten person company you've just lost a quarter of your production.

How about keeping that person from quiting? Paying them more and giving them more challenges. In an ideal world that would be great. But what happens when a higher-up has a project they spend weeks on using a third of the employees, and then run into a problem. They ask the super-producer for help. The super-producer says, “I got this.” Solves the problem in a few hours and inadvertently leaves the higher-up feeling foolish.

The main way to keep super-producers out of companies is the OCEANS test.

These test are designed to weed out individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking in the pursuit of group cohesiveness. That way the owner can make sure the company follows their plans. It doesn't matter if the plan is stupid, it will be followed.

This creates an environment were things can be handled quickly and predictably as workers follow herd dynamics, not individual decision making. People sacrifice themselves for the sake of the group, not looking at the bigger picture. With this set-up organizations might not make the correct decisions, but they will make predictable ones.

The other effect this has is it allows sociopaths to rise to the top.

Four percent of the population are sociopaths. They simply don't care about the suffering of others. They will do anything to get their way, no matter who it hurts. Put in an environment where people are more concerned with group cohesiveness than doing what is right, sociopaths can easily manipulate the systems put in place and gain power over the group. People who love group cohesiveness love following sociopaths. They work to keep a group together until something goes wrong. Then have no problem sticking a knife in the back of whoever is handy.

So the majority of multi-millionaires are actually sociopaths.

So to those who think that the top 1% are the “most productive”, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, being productive doesn't get you to the top of the corporate ladder. Being a sociopath does. So you should be saying, 'Should we be punishing the most destructive and insane members of our society?' I say, 'yes, yes we should'.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE


Don E. Chute said...

That was complete BS...The top producers are not sociopaths. They are the one's that fuel the economic engine that is the free market society.

The top 20% of all workers do more to benefit their company, the economy[thru the ripple effect] than the 80% below them.

Real companies that believe in the free market system, and creativity do not 'weed out' these individuals. They attempt to harness the talent, and if they can't these 'producers' will go on as entrepreneurs to create their own dynamic company.

A big Harrrumph to Darrell B. Nelson

PLU from SSF

Darrell B. Nelson said...

I do like your blog and think you have an interesting view on the world. So it is with respect that I ask, “Where the hell have you worked where a they respected the idea of the free market?”
You mentioned the 20/80 rule from the Peter Principle. But the rest of the Peter Principle has to do with companies promoting people to their highest level of incompetence. An employee will work their way up to the point where their incompetence won't let them get any further. To protect that position they surround themselves with people that are slightly less competent than they are, so that no one can take their job.
This makes companies be run by less and competent people. Once this pattern is established only two things can destroy it. One is the free market.
A good example would be HP. Steve Jobs worked for HP. He and Steve W. tinkered around with parts and made a personal computer that was more advanced than any hobby kit out there. They offered it to HP for no charge. They just wanted to work on it. HP turned them down as it would destroy their business model. They made the same offer to Atari, and got the same answer. It was a government loan for computer tech that let them launch Apple. Without government support Apple would have never started and the computer revolution would be delayed at least 15 years.
These days government doesn't give that kind of support to the free market. It is easier for the large companies to destroy competition than innovate. I left the Management Consulting World in the mid-90s to work for a small Internet company. We came up with the ideas for things that a decade later became essential parts of the web. The ideas were sound money makers, but hit at the foundations of corporations business models. Rather than use these ideas to grow, they thought it better to destroy us.
Destroy us they did. I'm a horror writer and I can't begin to describe the effects of earning the Wrath of the Music and Publishing Industries in the mid-90s. They spent millions to destroy us. That let the music industry keep it's old model another decade and the publishing industry nearly two decades.
The other thing that can destroy the incompetent cycle is a sociopath. A sociopath is someone who doesn't care about society. So while normal employees (even the incompetent ones) want to build a strong stable place to work. That means a good mixture of long term assets and short term profits. So the company makes money but can also survive bad times. The sociopath only thinks about what's in it for me right now. That leads to predatory capitalism. Wholesale destruction of the better run companies, to raid their long term assets and retirement plans for short term profit.
The supports for entrepreneurs to go out and create dynamic new companies are gone. Entrepreneurs have to face the wrath of entrenched industries alone. That leaves the top open for sociopaths to destroy companies that benefit society and no dynamic new companies to take their place.