Friday, October 25, 2013

Ask Mr Manager #3

With the economy is disarray and unemployment rampant Mr Manager has once again been called upon for advice in not to just retain your job but even to improve your chance of promotion.  Of course many people see Machiavelli as amoral and evil, even though he was really just pointing out how to achieve and maintain power.  This is also true of Mr. Manager – business is business and in these troubled times success depends as much on perception as reality.  So the first step in your plan to succeed without breaking a sweat should start with visibility.

To achieve visibility requires speaking out, but not in praise of anything because any success no matter how modest will have dozens of people claiming the glory.  No – what you must do is speak out against any project or activity that is doomed from the outset.  Every organization has these and they are easy to spot.  Here is a list of candidates which you can predict will fail.  Opposing these or predicting failure is sure to mark you as a person of vision.

  1. Product with specifications greater than 1000 pages
  2. Projects requiring more than a couple of years to reach fruition
  3. Any team or morale building effort
  4. Any reengineering effort that requires multiple managers and processes
  5. Any new or innovative process

Of course there is always the remote possibility that one of these projects might actually limp to some sort of conclusion.  However, no project is ever clear of weak areas and things that didn’t turn out so well.  In that case you point these out with a shake of your head and say ”Well – that’s just what I expected”  This will reinforce your growing reputation as a visionary and brilliant leader.

Now no manager works alone or without competitors so at some point one of your competitors will have managed to have you put in charge of a doomed project staffed by zombies and cretins. Obviously your first task is to find a way to switch jobs but this is not always possible so you have two options.  First you can quickly isolate and fire the zombies and cretins but then a bloody massacre no matter how justified will not enhance your reputation unless you aspire to being seen as Ivan the Terrible.  So the most viable course of action is to identify the worst of the worst and begin building their reputation, by making them employee of the month, bragging about their immense value to your project.  Your purpose here is to make them seem so useful and valuable that some unsuspecting fellow manager will “steal them away from you”.  This is especially rewarding if the manager who steals this “valuable” asset is a competitor because once he steals your best player he will have just infected his own project with this failure virus.

But many times your fellow managers will fail to fall for this ploy so you must resort to a tried and true strategy commonly known as “kick them upstairs”.  That is you do everything possible to have these losers promoted off of your team and into a position where they can drive your competing managers into gibbering idiots.  This is a highly effective strategy and widely used which tends to explain the disappointing performance of many large corporations and the federal government.

But don’t make the mistake of ever giving any of these zombies and cretins a bad performance review – NO – they must be given the highest praise because otherwise they will be chained to you forever.  If you cannot find a way to remove these cretins from your staff then place them in key support positions for projects belonging to competing managers.  This offers the potential of making your project look better than your competitors because you aren’t any worse than anyone else.  As a last resort bundle these losers up and put them in charge of the United Way Campaign.

The normal corporation is composed of managers who are constantly searching for ways to make themselves appear to be highly productive hard driving team players.   So naturally your objective is to make yourself appear to be a brilliant and a major contributor to the success of the team.  This is best accomplished by remembering that in the large corporation form always is more important than substance.  Or to put it another way volume always trumps brevity, because as everyone knows any document longer than a few pages will not be read by any manager or executive.  This means that all of your reports should be jammed with irrelevant facts and graphs and if you can include some very complicated equations even better.  Then your report should be packaged in a binder with a cover letter that describes in subtle detail why everything in this report is self evident to any manager as capable as the addressee.  This will ensure no one ever reads it while demonstrating your penetrating intellect and incisive analytical abilities.

As you climb the corporate ladder it is important that you give the impression that you are not only a hard worker and key player but that you are also a strategic thinker.  This is more easily accomplished than you might think.  It is important that you associate yourself with important sounding jobs that have no possibility of a measured result while avoiding those that include names like Operations, Budget, Accounting, or Quality.  Instead volunteer for assignments that have Strategic, Worldwide, Market, or Planning in their title.  Projects with these in their title have little chance of accomplishing anything while drawing the attention of upper management.  Your value to these projects can be increased if you carry a full briefcase home every night giving the impression that you are slaving over this project.  Of course your reports should be lengthy and filled with confusing statistics. 

If you have ever wondered how some upper level manager, who can’t even order a Starbucks Coffee without assistance, got his job – well now you know – it is all about how things look rather than what they are.  Mr Manager is pleased to provide you another lesson in how to achieve success without actually having produced anything.  

Saturday, October 05, 2013


Entropy is a very interesting concept, explained by science with some complicated mathematics.  But in its simplest terms entropy can be summarized as “nature tends from order to disorder”  This can be observed all around us as we see things deteriorate, iron rusts, leaves decay, even our bodies gradually decline eventually leading to death.  But the reverse isn’t true – disordered things do not organize themselves without some external force.  The typical teenagers bedroom does not reorganize itself without some external force.  So how did the universe organize itself without some direction?

Scientists – comfortable in their knowledge of all things – have explained the big Bang and the origin of the universe.  It seems at the beginning there was this primordial speck that contained all of the energy in the universe.  They are a little vague on exactly how this speck came to be or exactly where it was located since space did not yet exist, but that’s what they believe.  At that instant of the Big Bang all energy was released but in what form?  Apparently the energy was released in the form of protons, neutrons, and electrons. So the Big Bang was entropy in action since it went from order in the form of this primordial speck to disorder. 

But almost immediately the Law of Entropy was reversed because these energetic particles began to coalesce into atoms and then into molecules gaining mass in the process.  But with mass comes gravity so perhaps it was gravity – assuming of course that gravity is not a particle and that was the external force that reversed entropy.  Given that the Big Bang created the universe and everything it in and that no energy or particle was created after that, then gravity could logically be the external force.  But then what about everything else that came later?  What about life?  What about Dark Matter and Dark Energy?  These are theorized but unknown.

The origin of life has always been a problem for science and as science extends our knowledge of life and the universe the problem has gotten more complicated.  The idea that life began spontaneously through some cosmic particle impacting some random molecule in the sea has been abandoned.  Instead scientists have postulated “Pan Spermia” which postulates that life originated outside of our solar system and was introduced via a comet or meteor or some similar interstellar particle.  Of course this doesn’t really address the origin of life, it merely sidesteps the issue.  So the question remains – how did life begin?  The evolutionists believe that life began in the sea and all life evolved from that first self-replicating molecule, but what about the Law of Entropy?  Order can only come from disorder due to some external force but what external force created DNA?

The mathematicians have determined that DNA is so complicated that it is virtually impossible for this molecular structure to have been created randomly.  Yet life rests on DNA – even that first little paramecium and Pre-Cambrian pond scum which became human requires DNA.  Nevertheless the world of science presses on and essentially now we have seven theories describing how life began.

Theory 1 – The Electric Spark

This Theory rests on the Urey-Miller Experiment which demonstrated that an electric spark in an atmosphere rich in water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen could have produced the “building blocks” of life.  Unfortunately the early atmosphere was hydrogen poor, so the fall back position was – maybe hydrogen from volcanoes.

Theory 2 – Community Clay

This idea comes from Alexander Cairns-Smith who suggests that organic molecules might organize themselves via the mineral crystals in clay.  These mineral crystals would have helped to organize these organic molecules into organized patterns that eventually led to organize themselves.

Theory 3 – Deep Sea Vents

This theory suggests that life may have begun through hydrothermal vents spewing key hydrogen rich molecules that were concentrated into nooks where mineral catalysts provided for critical reactions leading to the building blocks of life.

Theory 4 – Icy Start

This theory assumes that the oceans 3 billion years ago where frozen to great depths protecting the fragile organic compounds in the water from damaging ultraviolet light and cosmic particles.  This cold might have helped these organic molecules survive long enough for key reactions to happen.

Theory 5 – RNA World

Life requires Proteins and Proteins require DNA but mathematically it is virtually impossible for DNA to have formed randomly.  The answer might be – according to some scientists – RNA which can help create both proteins and DNA.  Of course how RNA came into being is unknown and some scientists say a spontaneous creation of RNA is unlikely to have happened.

Theory 6 – Simple Beginning

This theory suggest that instead of developing from complex molecules like RNA, life might have begun with smaller molecules interacting with each other in cycles or reactions leading to more complex molecules   These might have been contained in simple capsules similar to cell membranes evolving over time into more complex molecules that became the building blocks of life.

Theory 7 Pan Spermia

This theory simply side steps the question and suggests that life was introduced on the Earth via a meteor or comet impacts.  So even if this theory were true it doesn’t address how life originated elsewhere.

Yes these are very short summaries of very complicated theories but reading the complete theories doesn’t really add any meaningful data because they all assume order from disorder and are laced with qualifiers.  None of these theories really address the problem of DNA and how it could have been created through random processes.  The law of Entropy requires some external force for order to emerge from disorder and none of these theories actually explain even how these organic molecules came into existence. The assumption underlying all of these theories is that molecules have randomly combined to create these organic molecules.  These organic molecules have become more and more complex through random process until they became self-replicating.  These self-replicating molecules grew more complicated until they did the mathematically impossible and formed DNA and the pattern for life.  All that is missing is the admission that magic was involved. So the question regarding the origin of life remains open while the Atheists and Scientists reject anything resembling intelligent design.