The new Ben Horowitz management book

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Own Business Culture.  It is the best book on business culture in recent memory, here is one bit:

When Tom Coughlin coached the New York Giants, from 2004 to 2015, the media went crazy over a shocking rule he set: “If you are on time, you are late.”  He started every meeting five minutes early and fined players one thousand dollars if they were late.  I mean on time…”Players ought to be there on time, period,” he said.  “If they’re on time, they’re on time.  Meetings start five minutes early.”


Two lessons for leaders jump out from Senghor’s experience:

  1. Your own perspective on the culture is not that relevant.  Your view or your executive team’s view of your culture is rarely what your employees experience.

You can pre-order the book here, due out in October.


and the second lesson is...?

Buy the book you cheapskate.

"the media went crazy over a shocking rule he set"

Have clickbait headlines become a legitimate prose style?

As I vaguely recall Coughlin was a martinet, which they say is unusual for pro coaches, who mollycoddle players. Wikipedia bears this out: "On February 7, 2007, Tiki Barber officially followed through on his threat to retire from the Giants. He cited numerous complaints about Eli Manning's leadership skills and Coughlin's practice style as decisions to retire at what seemed the peak of his career. "

So perhaps Coughlin's excellence is simply being tough on players and showing a little more stick than carrot? Though Barber was wrong about Manning's leadership skills. Given these days that fear of head injuries ("CTE", "Jul 25, 2017 · CTE was found in 110 brains of 111 deceased former NFL players") that approach might make more players retire early.

Bonus trivia: Tiki Barber apparently so loved the game that he tried to come out of retirement in 2011, five years later, but no team would sign him.

Erik was excited because we had finished a surveillance product known as P2P from the survey data of computer-painted advertisements on busboards, mall displays, and airport kiosks. P2P was a revenue neutral product and a first mover in place theory, which addressed the necessary question of latency. The survey was based on an outreach support group, a vice detective, a nurse, and a social worker named John Morehouse who went to graduate school with Erik.
“The thing you understand in a study on suicide prevention is the participant is always dishonest,” Bobby Hamlet had told us.
“That’s counterintuitive” Erik said.
“When you get stuck in a sand trap, you don’t have the time to take practice shots. You have to process faster.”
“It’s a moving target,” I said.
“Right. You get an instinct,” Bobby said. “The population that got community service seeks emergency treatment, and the population that got emergency treatment engaged their family members. If you can assure yourself of a consistent change in behavior, even if it’s the minority population, the data becomes self-fulfilling. Of course, we don’t see that much.”

Great stuff, I am no good at it.

Why not just list the actual times that meetings are going to start? Is he trying to spot the players that can't do basic mental math? Coughlin may have won a Superbowl, but it was mostly luck. Everything I've read about the guy tells me he's not the brightest bulb. I understand leaders need clear and simple metrics to track employee compliance, so including stupid rules isn't necessarily a mistake, but the way this is described suggests Coughlin doesn't recognize that this is a stupid rule. To be clear, I'm talking about the five minute early rule; not him fining players for being late.

Yeah, Coughlin wasn't a particularly good coach. His Super Bowl-winning teams were not very good and benefited from the variance of single-elimination playoffs. Belichick is the only NFL coach whose style is worthy of detailed analysis.

Isn't it, though? I'm in cloud cuckoo land and it's really great!

You are an impersonator.

The culture that the executive team would experience is the ambience in the executive suite.

This is an example. The executives experienced their colleagues working like dogs to make it work, but missed the reality outside where the incentives were guaranteed to produce failure, which it did.

My experience with effective managers is that they know what a well functioning business looks like and they are there to look at it. IT systems can give an illusion of something, but you have to be there to look.

The little fascist Bolsonaro is so incompetent that he can't even manage to make the trains run on time: Disorder and Regression Below the Mean!

Because there are few trains. Brazil uses a mix of roads, airplanes and ships to transport people and goods. Mr. Bolsonaro, however, is implementing bold reforms that will make the infrastructure much better than it is now.

Some googling turned up a Vince Lombardi quote: "If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late."

In the 70s I went to a time management class and the centerpiece was a short film titled “Lombardi Time”. Lombardi presented his (common sense) methods for getting the most out of the work day. He preached the importance of being 15 minutes early for every appointment. Mostly because you have no idea what kind of obstacles you might encounter: bad weather, flat tire, emergency call from your boss, etc.

>your executive team’s view of your culture is rarely what your employees experience.

Indeed. I work for a large multinational and every year employees are expected to spend over an hour answering questions about how we feel about what the company should be doing better in Europe or questions of that nature.

I work in the US and have zero knowledge of what the company does in Europe (or Asia, etc.), I'm in an entirely different business unit. Yet every year I have to answer detailed questions about worldwide strategic goals. Oh well, at least I get paid to answer such silly questions.

Whatever happened in the first five minutes of any meeting that was meaningful? Show up five minutes late and be efficient with your time.

I remember being charmed, when I converted to Judaism, by the pragmatism of Orthodox services. A service requires a minyan (10 men) to get going, but that means ONLY TEN MEN need to be there from the start. So announcements would include the timetable for the next service: We'll be getting to Nishmat at 10 (the assumption being, this would be the time when people would start trickling in). (There ARE parts of the service people do want to be there for, but the service kicks off with, among other things, a lot of psalms for which skilled readers compete to achieve personal bests for speed.) I shall write a management book called The Nishmat Principle.

It is interesting to note the differences. My spouse is Jewish (I did not convert) and services went on and on with lots of coming and going. One time I said "we're late."

"No we're not." Then somebodies kid said their bit and my mother in law said "ok we're done" and we all got up and left.

A nice guy like John Wooden just couldn't be successful, I suppose.

I really like the bit about culture. The fake yearning for company culture is so nauseating.

> Hey guys! Check it out, we have silly chairs in the lobby and ping pong tables in the break room. It's our company culture!
> We work hard and play hard. It even says so on the wall in giant letters. It's our company culture!
> We hired an energetic rah-rah culture czar and give her the title of Head of People Engagement. Can't you see, our culture is awesome!

It's all so manufactured, fabricated, contrived bullshit. Culture can only develop naturally, organically. Coming up with cringe-worthy acronyms to define the company culture for the All Hands slide deck doesn't mean you actually have such a culture.

"It's all so manufactured, fabricated, contrived bullshit."

Often it's only a veneer of bullshit on a substantial layer of stupidity. It's a miracle that anything works.

From the Amazon blurb: how Genghis Khan’s vision of cultural inclusiveness has parallels in the work of Don Thompson, the first African-American CEO of McDonalds, and of Maggie Wilderotter, the CEO who led Frontier Communications. .

That makes the book sound like a parody of facile vapid management books. Stalin was also a strong believer in multi culturalism. Why not throw him in?

The answer to all questions relating to worker happiness and productivity can be found in the data: The link is to an excerpt from Neil Irwin's soon to be published book titled How to Win in a Winner-Take-All World. The excerpt relates to Microsoft and the unhappy workers in the company's computing devices division. The data revealed the workers were spending way too much time in large meetings (20 or more attendees), 27 hours per week, which meant they had to work lots of overtime to do the real work that needed to be done to make up for the time wasted in large meetings. Did Microsoft have to hire a consultant, accumulate lots of data, and purchase a software package to analyze the data to figure out that 27 hours per week in large meetings is stupid? Apparently so. Is tech causing our brains to atrophy?

Cowen linked the Irwin article and his new book yesterday. I missed it.

I have a (probably false) memory of a version of the rule - "If you're not early, you're late, " from WWII via my father, who at any rate made that my lifelong habit. I don't think it's arbitrary BS. If an action is to begin at H-hour, everything has to be in place at the moment. A meeting isn't much of an action, but it's something, otherwise you shouldn't go. And if it's an action, it needs to begin when it begins.

Great for footballers and blue collars, what about most of people in the service economy?

I guess Coughlin turned it up to 11.

Leaders. Of course guys like Coughlin, in order to be successful leaders, need good followers, which might be the actual goal of the US educational system. But that's not what they're selling.

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