Management Pseudoscience

A thirsty argument

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I recently started writing about management pseudoscience, based on my observations in the organisations in which I have been employed, and those (many) in which I have done consulting.

Under the heading of quirky office behaviour, the issue of water has been an interesting one in the last several years. In particular, the water-bottle-as-fashion-accessory.

Although the fad has now largely been replaced by iPads/iphones in meetings, the water bottle can still be seen lurking in the occasional meeting, though no where near as much as it used to. Surprisingly, no one has died of dehydration as a result of this decrease.

This article just goes to reinforce the farce that is the water bottle in meetings.

Really, are you chatting for a half an hour, or are you running across the Simpson desert? Even if we agree that such a meeting can be quite draining, then perhaps a drink before and a drink after will do the trick and keep you out of the morgue.

As luck would have it, nature has devised a cunning way for us to avoid death by dehydration, known technically as thirst.

OK, I admit, there may be some individuals out there with a malfunction in that part of their circuitry – and to those people, I apologise, and invite you to bring water to that next meeting. I raise this because I want to avoid the trap I fell into some years ago – while playing football, a team-mate used to eat Mars bars at each quarter break, and I was eventually moved to call him a pig, only to later learn he had some ailment involving sugar levels and would have passed out without the hit.

Admittedly, the water bottle as constant companion is not always about thirst. It’s as much about fitness – or at least an image of fitness – you know, the super athlete on the move, athletically pouncing from meeting to meeting, and waiting with breathless anticipation for the end of the workday in order to squeeze in a half-marathon and pump class before bed-time.

As annoying as the water bottles and periodic swigging thereof were, it could have been worse – at least we were spared the lycra accessories.

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The perils of technology in meetings

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Based on quite a few years now in the management consulting game, I’d been considering initiating a new category of posts entitled something like ‘management pseudoscience’, and then I saw this article in the Age, which seemed like a good way to kick off the category.

By management pseudoscience I mean all the pseudoscience and nonsense which pervades the business world, resulting in a whole range of practices and belief systems which are just as annoying, bizarre and non-sensical as those in the medical or psychological pseudoscience arena. Examples you may have heard of include Myers-Briggs personality typing, and, ‘Top x habits of a successful business’ and that sort of thing. In general I have found that the analysis behind such so-called management science is about as far from the practice of science as you can get. Anyway, more on that later.

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