picking bosses (Re: URGENT: Delete My Last Message)

Dave Long (dl@silcom.com)
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 20:35:43 -0700

> Small bizness are as bad as big corps. Sometimes though if you find the
> righ Small Biz its a joy amongst all joys. My fave jobs have been with
> bosses who are open to ideas rather than blindd by thier own
> egohypejihads.
> which means, pick your bosses as best you can

You really have to pick the transitive closure[0] of your bosses as best you
can. You may be able to do a good job of protecting your people from the
normal jihads, but all it takes is someone a few levels up on an egohypejihad,
and everyone's day is ruined[1].

This model implies that small businesses are exponentially better than large
businesses[2]; if you stand a 90% chance of getting through the year without
being mushroomed if you report to El Jefe, you only have slightly better than
even odds when your boss reports to a director who reports to a division head
who reports to a general manager who reports to a veep.

I think the situation is actually worse than the simple model. The alpha and
omega horses in a herd don't get into many altercations; the ones who indulge
in horse play are the ones who are arguing about the difference between #7 and
#8 in a dozen-horse herd. Large businesses are full of those middle levels
that encourage turf wars, but small businesses are too flat[3]. Of course, if
we'd rather not compare corporate and equine behavior, we might explain the
observed behavior by stating that smaller businesses, having fewer resources,
have to be more focused on light than heat[4,6].

Simplest answer is to be your own boss[5]. Then you can work any 80 hours of
the week you choose :-)


[0] this may have been implicitly stated; it deserves to be made explicit.

[1] I've heard two good suggestions for when to run down the hawser lines:
a) when you have three bad days in a row, or
b) if you find yourself taking 30 minute showers in the morning.

[2] or exponentially worse, if you thrive on politics.

[3] hint: if anyone wants an org chart, it's too late.

[4] do so too well for too long, and you no longer have a small business.

[5] the trust fund is also a great simplification, but requires picking your

[6] A nice bit from Morton Grosser's book about the Gossamer Albatross and
other human-powered flying machines:

"Visitors to the hangar were also often surprised by the way work was
assigned. The construction chief, or whoever was acting foreman for the day,
would go over the airplane, and write down all the jobs that needed to be
done. His list, usually written on several sheets of lined yellow paper taped
end-to-end, was then posted on the hangar wall. Whenever someone finished
what he was working on, he would stroll over to the list and scan it from top
to bottom. "Hmmmm," was a common audible accompaniment to this survey,
followed by, "Okay, I guess I can do that." Occasionally this laissez-faire
process resulted in entries like "Organization is in chaos." Most often, and
ultimately, in resulted in people's doing what they were best at and producing
a successful and well-crafted plane in a remarkably short time."