Musk-Jobs: The Bozo Explosion

Processes are for idiot proofing, they’re an error reduction technique. Problem is, idiot proof processes are unbearable to anyone who’s not an idiot.

Corporations are big on documentation. If you’ve worked for one, you likely learned this the hard way. Big companies like to insulate themselves from risk. What if someone who knows something leaves, is everything they do documented? Scary.

Processes and documentation are set in place by fearful people. The regimented processes they build reduce risk of error. However, smart people avoid becoming single function, non-thinkings cogs.

Here’s Elon Musk on processes:

The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.

-Quoted from a 2012 Wired article

Here’s the really interesting part, dopey people aren’t benign growths, they’re cancerous.

In Issac Watson’s  Steve Jobs book, it talks about the peril of hiring what Job’s called “bozos”. He said the problem with hiring bozos is that eventually one becomes a manager and then they hire lots of bozos.

So the first bozo is the onset and from there, if you don’t catch it fast, it spreads. Except it’s even worse than that. Smart people want to work with other smart people. What smart people hate is working with bozos. As bozos spread, smart people leave.

For me, these ideas on the peril of implementing process policies and bozo explosions, they’re ideas I’m oddly obsessed with. I think it’s part of a grand picture fear that I have about the future America. I think that so many people are employed by corporations that, what begins in the HR department as lawsuit prevention eventually or in the operations department as process documentation, eventually influences how individuals think.

I have this vision of the future America being plagued by rules, processes, and regulations that strangle to death all the things I love. I picture America being this place where innovative thinking, risk taking, problem solving, invention, and entrepreneurship are all drowning in a sea of rules.


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