To be or not to be… Evil

Juilan Browne. In a quite long essay, he defends the fact that being, or better becoming Evil for corporation is inevitable.

And to make the story short, Julian basically says: “Small company” => Good, “Big company” => difficult, “A company listed on the stock exchange” => definitely Evil. This could be seen as politically sided, but it is not the core of his paper.

From his large experience, he observed that there seems to be fatty layers adding up to a growing company, inevitable. And then, when a company is listed on the stock exchange, unhealthy growth would be the defining factor for becoming Evil.

“Whether it’s through greed, or lazy simplistic thinking, the route to evil corporations is via unhealthy growth. And unhealthy growth can be defined as exceeding a size beyond which you notice the presence of anybody who doesn’t contribute directly to the work the company was set up to do.
Unhealthy growth is in fact the norm. It’s the path of least resistance. Markets, in even obscure products, are huge which means the opportunities to grow are vast. Effort to stay healthy is hard.
A lot of middle-sized companies and a ton of small companies is better for employees and for customers, even if it’s not a very efficient model. In fact, for obvious reasons, efficient models aren’t good for the employment prospects of large populations. Which is probably why we tolerate such fat and waste in large companies. Growth should lead to frightening levels of efficiency and yet big companies are always hiring people to do jobs that aren’t real (what is an Information Architect anyway?). People with jobs that aren’t real have a lot of meetings. And meetings are dangerous because to fill up the time these people make decisions about anything and everything. Most of the time these decisions are thankfully ignored, but occasionally they break out of the meeting room as a policy in a code of conduct.”

This is basically a call for reason. A call to human kind to resist the temptation to aim for the maximum growth. 🙂 Quite funny when you follow a MBA!

“A software project in a small company might have some kind of leader and some developers and that’s it. A big company will have programme managers, project managers, project administrators, scrum masters, business analysts, designers, enterprise architects, solution architects, developers, testers, systems administrators, DBAs, the list goes on. And because most of these people do the same job, there has to be endless meetings to constantly sort out who’s doing which bit of pointless non-delivery activity.”

Yes, but then, how doing this otherwise? A program manager will coordinate the project managers and should aim to minimize the potential overlapping.
But worst… what about the public sector? Ouch, by definition: Evil?
In the public sector, growth is not a target. In fact, the public sector should grow at a lower pace than the increase of the purchasing power of the household? Anyway, the staff in the public sector will stand up for this sentence: “The easiest is to make money” meaning that the easiest is to be in the private sector (this while smiling sarcastically). Rhetoric not leading very far.

His elements of answer to his own question:

“[…] I’m no anthropologist either, but I don’t think I’d be overstepping the mark to say that human beings have reached their current level of sophistication (i.e. grown) due in large part to an amazing ability to collect, analyse, and act on data.
Because until we wise up a bit as a species and stop this childish obsession with growth that’s the best we’re going to get.”

What do you think? Could you work in a large company without codes of conduct (the HR one, the IT one, etc.)? Can you accept that there will not be any increase of revenue or income and therefore perhaps no growth for a while? At the end, people love to grow as it echo a perceived natural evolution. In fact that is what they do… they grown until they die. Idem for businesses or social organisations. Only the time cycle and span changes. There is one thing: we have finished the post WWII growth era. The “For tomorrow, I want more and more and better and better” period has now ended. And it is pretty scary to think that my kids might not have this peace of mind that my parents had: “Tomorrow can only be better”.

Yes… we should run into a wide evolution step… as species! Shouldn’t we? And it does not need to end up as Evil…

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