28 September 2009

Top 10 Warning Signs of Bozosity (plus a few extras)

Guy Kawasaki is smart.

After years of working among some of the most creative companies on the planet he invented the concept of a “bozo explosion.”  That’s what happens to great companies after a certain point, if the company isn’t carefully managed with an eye to continued success and innovation.

As Kawasaki rightly puts it, the whole process is depressing.

For your amusement, here’s his list of warning signs that a bozo explosion is underway. You can find this and whole lot more great ideas at his blog How to change the world.

1.   The two most popular words in your company are “partner” and “strategic.” In addition, “partner” has become a verb, and “strategic” is used to describe decisions and activities that don't make sense.

2.   Management has two-day offsites at places like the Ritz Carlton to foster communication and to craft a company mission statement.

3.   The aforementioned company mission statement contains more than twenty words--two of which are “partner” and “strategic.”

4.   Your CEO's admin has an admin.

5.   Your parking lot's “biorhythm” looks like this:

  • 8:00 am - 10:00 am--Japanese cars exceed German cars
  • 10:00 am - 5:00 pm--German cars exceed Japanese cars
  • 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm--Japanese cars exceed German cars

6.    Your HR department requires an MBA degree for any position; it also requires five to ten years work experience in an industry that is only four years old.

7.    Time is now considered more important than money so you have a company cafeteria, health club, and pet grooming service. Moreover, the first thing that employees show visitors is the company cafeteria, health club, and pet grooming service.

8.    Someone whose music sells in the iTunes music store performs at the company Christmas party.

9.    An employee is paid to do nothing but write a blog.

10.    The success of a competitor upsets you more than the loss of a customer.

Addendumbs (sic) to the list from readers:

11.    You have a layer of middle management who worked at big-name companies (usually consumer goods) who like to call meetings and designate “project leads.” (I experienced this first hand.)

12.    You hire a big name consulting firm who brings in MBAs with one year of experience to re-think your corporate strategies.

13.   Your company likes some of these MBAs and hires them away from the big-name consulting firm.

14.   Your CEO or CFO spends more time on CNBC than in the office

And then it got much worse Update:  The short list quickly became the Guy Bozofication Aptitude Test (it pays to read more than what google turned up).

15.   The front-desk staff gets better looking and less competent.

16.   The only time you see your CEO is when you're watching CNBC.

17.   You watch CNBC during the day and don't feel guilty.

18.   The ratio of engineers to attorneys dips below 25 to 1.

19.   The company has created a “company values” poster.

20.   “Leveraging core competencies” and “maximizing shareholder value” show up in official documents, in the same paragraph.

21.   New executives campaign to improve the product before they understand how to use it.

22.   Your company outsources its mission statement.

23.   Your CEO's chair is more expensive than your first car.

24.   You have more than two execs with the word “chief” in their title.

25.   The company becomes a schwag fountain: pens, bags, notepads, messenger bags.

Add two points for each

26.   Your CEO writes a book.

27.   Your CEO gets invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos where he gives advice to the presidents of Eastern European countries.

28.   Your company has a corporate jet.

29.   Your company hired a retired professional athlete as a motivational speaker.

30.   Your company hired a retired politician as a motivational speaker