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Evaluating the 'Doofus Factor' In Corporate Governance

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the institutionalized-astrology dept.

Businesses 204

PolygamousRanchKid writes with this quote from an article in the Economist: "The directors of Yahoo! were 'so spooked by being cast as the worst board in the country' that they fired Carol Bartz as chief executive 'to show that they're not the doofuses that they are.' That was Ms Bartz's typically blunt verdict, offered to Fortune after she was dismissed with a phone call by the internet firm's chairman, Roy Bostock, on September 6th. She would say that. Yet Ms Bartz's criticisms of the board have been sympathetically received. Firing a chief executive by phone smacks of hasty, panicky decision-making. And Yahoo!'s board already had a poor reputation, having turned down an offer from Microsoft that valued the firm at several times what it is worth today. It is not just Yahoo!'s board that is feeling the heat. The directors of HP, another stumbling Silicon Valley giant, have been accused of serial ineptitude spanning the appointment and dismissal of Carly Fiorina as chief executive, the firing of her successor, Mark Hurd, and the selection of his replacement, Léo Apotheker. ... There is growing demand for boards to undergo a formal evaluation process, to assess both the performance of each individual board member and how they work together as a group. The European Union is considering new regulations that would require an independent evaluation of the board every three years."

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204 comments

Money (5, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431484)

A significant amount of research has been conducted that demonstrates monetary incentives that are too high actually severely decreases the effectiveness and productivity of a person to levels even lower than when monetary incentives are too low. I have no doubt this happening to corporate CEO boards across the western world. Any of these corporations could hire perfectly competent CEOs from business schools for 1/10 their current pay. But like frat boys they all sit on each others' boards and give each other multimillion dollar raises, bonuses, and parachutes, all at the investors' expense.

Re:Money (2)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431640)

They also pay people to tell the government to bail them out through tax loopholes, tax breaks, and other means.

To be fair, the government is not exactly happy that a company that employs so many directly and many more indirectly is faltering, but what else can they do to prevent this huge job market loss?

Re:Money (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431914)

Supporting the small business and individual entrepreneurship that actually employs over half of the workforce would be a good start. Small businesses don't just pull up stakes and go to China and tend not to do as much offshoring (it simply doesn't make as much sense, even in the short term for small business). They don't (and can't) throw a tantrum and threaten the regional economy unless they get special treatment. They're not too big to fail and they're not too big to punish when they commit crimes.

Re:Money (2, Interesting)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432314)

These series of past corporate handled events affecting entire governments causes me to ask, "why are multinational conglomerates allowed to enter a country, suck it dry of wealth, then leave, unjudged."

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432474)

Small businesses don't just pull up stakes and go to China and tend not to do as much offshoring (it simply doesn't make as much sense, even in the short term for small business).

Maybe it's because we're using different notions of small businesses, but small businesses do a lot of off-shoring. In fact, I know several small business that have started to facilitate off-shoring and others that have embraced it and raking in cash - which I'm sure will cause the local competitors to off-shoring since they are getting deluged with contracts due to their low cost but are able to maintain their high margins.

Re:Money (5, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431712)

But like frat boys they all sit on each others' boards and give each other multimillion dollar raises, bonuses, and parachutes, all at the investors' expense.

In Ireland, there were only around 40 or so company directors amongst all the major bank, company and state boards. Most of these were also businessmen, CEOs, or managers. As you can imagine, nest padding was a primary activity. When the state property agency NAMA was created, one of the first acts of the board was to increase the chairman's salary by 70% [www.rte.ie]. I imagine similar outrages occur in the US.

The proper here isn't "doofus factors" or anything to do with individual boards. The problem is that the entire business and governance culture of the western world is no longer functioning properly. It has become mired in corruption, greed, fraud, and mismanagement. Yet still we tolerate crooks and doofuses because seemingly everyone agrees that this is the best way to run things. Our prevalent financial worldviews are unable to explain or understand why things aren't working anymore.

Personally, I feel that a "financial reformation" is needed in our society. Something literally of the magnitude of the Protestant reformation in the 1500s. We need to turn away from the corrupt established church of business and economics and find new business philosophies. We need to find a system which prevents doofuses, grubbers, and psychopaths from running our companies. We need a system in which shareholders are investors instead of gamblers.

We need a new way of doing business, and even of thinking about and understanding business. Otherwise we'll end up with companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, NASA, and Bank of America being run into the ground by directors, managers,and shareholders who at best have no idea what they're doing, and who at worst will actively destroy the company for personal gain.

Re:Money (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431802)

Oddly, the party that professes "personal responsibility" is the one that pushes for corporations as people that have no responsibilities most. As long as the US puts quarterly profits above all personable responsibility of those running it and "personal responsibility" is something to be pushed on the poor through laws that fine poor for not paying corporations for private health insurance (to corporations who have no responsibility to anyone, save the legal minimum to stay in business).

Re:Money (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431932)

LOL that's the cutest hunk of bullshit I've ever read. Here's a clue: being good at math doesn't mean you know a thing about anything else.

In the real universe, you have winners and losers. There is no special magical formula whereby you can prevent that. I know you nanny-staters think you're smart enough to run everything perfectly, which means you're just slightly more numb in the head than those you vilify.

Re:Money (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432340)

There are a group of grinning predators that will not stop you. Your prosperity is their food; and you would embrace them; why? You want us to believe that you'll be spared?

still... (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432430)

that would make them about twenty times smarter than the cowardly corporate whores like you that continue insulting everyone around by repeatedly making claims that have been proven to be false time and time again.

Re:Money (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432080)

Socialism is the answer. The means of production are owned by the government. Instead of greedy corporate CEOs, we'll have professional government employees running companies. These people have no incentive to make a profit, so they'll do a much better job running things.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432356)

Socialism is the answer. The means of production are owned by the government. Instead of greedy corporate CEOs, we'll have professional government employees running companies. These people have no incentive to make a profit, so they'll do a much better job running things.

Since they have no incentive to make a profit, they usually don't have any incentive to run thing efficiently either. Which is basically what you get with municipal run companies (e.g., BART or Bay Area Rapid Transit in the USA-SanFrancisco Bay area) which are basically corporations with boards appointed by elected officials running trains owned by the government. So in exchange for greedy corporate CEOs from old-boys clubs, we get nepotistic campaign doners nephews. Great. That's the answer to everything ;^)

Re:Money (1)

nine932038 (1934132) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432198)

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of co-op driven economics for a while. Small, owned and operated by the employees themselves, responsibilities and profits both would be shared more equitably.

... new way of doing business (2, Insightful)

beachdog (690633) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432470)

In this current down economic climate (referring to the time period 2008 to 2011) neither boards of directors, nor management nor the government looks good.

Sort of incidentally (following on a college education that had about 4 semesters of American history and American culture classes) I have been puzzling about the American corporation and reading the occasional book on the subject. The first thing I feel these books show is that American corporations are creatures caught within the economic and cultural currents of the time. Sorry but I am naming the titles from memory.

The last book on the list is The Decline and Fall of the American Auto Industry, published around 2009 a few months after the General Motors bailout. Here is a book that principally tells the story of the decline of General Motors Corporation with vignettes of decisions and policies forced upon top management and the GM board of directors from about 1970 down to the bailout. These are the years where General Motors could do everything except build a good small car. At the board of directors level, the choices kept being matters of avoiding the more awful.The board of directors finally wound up with a General Manager whose speciality was promising things would be better. The problem that was never ever solved (and still isn't solved in my opinion) is how to make a 4 cylinder engine as good as the 1700 cc Honda (and keep it in production even if it costs a few dollars more.). No board of directors can solve that problem.

The next two corporation books are: My Years with General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan (mid 1960's) and the 1950 vintage classic about General Motors, The Concept of the Corporation by Peter Drucker. These books are the classic duo about a big corporation and a really gifted and eloquent Chief Executive Officer. The only problem is both books were written in the middle of a 40 year richest in the world expansion of the mass production automobile. In the present down economy,the same high quality people sitting on the Board and occupying the top management simply do not look as good... no matter what they do.

Regarding your wish for a new way of doing business, I would say look back at the 1980's... The Regan Presidency Years... where job security began to evaporate. That was the era when the conglomerate corporation began to operate. This is when the process of buying up smaller corporations and doing obscene things to their balance sheets and business plans began. A social history of this era up to the present (not focused very clearly on Corporations) is The Great Inflation and It's Aftermath by Samuelson.

So one way of looking for a new way of doing business is to ask, how can we change the economy of scale back so that stable, quality, relatively low profit and low debt Corporations are not subject to being bought up, stripped of their cash, move the manufacturing to contract offshore factories, loaded with debt and resold on the stock market to investors. Recent corporations worthy of study are Sunbeam, Mr. Coffee and Kidde (fire extinguishers).

Re:Money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432022)

Daniel Pink's "Drive" speech covers some of the research conducted on money and performance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Re:Money (1, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432280)

It's not just money, at least for publicly traded companies, the CEO is no longer accountable to pretty much anyone. Republicans, who declare themselves the "defenders of capitalism", have pretty much attacked the heart of capitalism by doing everything in their power to remove shareholders rights. And when Obama tried to give shareholders a non-binding say on CEO salary, the Republicans screamed bloody murder.

As such it hardly comes as a surprise when you tell a CEO that they basically have free reign to convert the companies assets into their own personal assets, that they go ahead and do so. And even the ones that are so incompetent and/or greedy that they get fired still get a huge severance bonus. Of course the bullshit Republican response is that they "earn it", but like 99% of the modern Republican party's talking points, this one again is blatantly false. The S&P has essentially gone nowhere the past 10 years but CEO salaries have skyrocketed. Meanwhile, a lot of countries where CEOs don't earn massive amounts of cash for little to no work, such as Germany, are out-performing the S&P and Dow considerably. I'm not even going to get into developing markets. The massive amount of executive salary US companies dole out is a huge competitive disadvantage. It creates a huge cost burden for the company without really showing a whole lot for it. But of course, since Republicans despise capitalism, since unlike cronyism it actually allows someone who wasn't born rich to succeed, they are doing everything in their power to destroy it.

Re:Money (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432282)

A significant amount of research has been conducted ...

Could you provide a reference to this "significant amount of research"?

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432336)

A significant amount of research has been conducted that demonstrates monetary incentives that are too high actually severely decreases the effectiveness and productivity of a person to levels even lower than when monetary incentives are too low. I have no doubt this happening to corporate CEO boards across the western world. Any of these corporations could hire perfectly competent CEOs from business schools for 1/10 their current pay. But like frat boys they all sit on each others' boards and give each other multimillion dollar raises, bonuses, and parachutes, all at the investors' expense.

Of course, this research was conducted by people earning 50k a year. ;)

Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431514)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Re:Golden Girls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431846)

If you're going to paste this in every story, the least you could do is replace 'cosmonaut' with 'confidant' to make the lyrics correct. I've heard some seriously bad mistaken lyrics in my time, but this has to be one of the worst.

Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (3, Interesting)

s-whs (959229) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431520)

And fire them!

There was a recent Horizon programme (BBC) which said that psychopaths are 4 times more likely to be in the boards of businesses etc., than in other jobs.

Not surprising. I knew these people are good at manipulating, on my website I named a bunch since 2003 related to airtravel industry and Schiphol in particular, and that is actually what they are often picked for. To manipulate in the media etc. I'm not sure if this was just a recap of old research or new, if new then these researchers are not too bright (then again, what can you expect in the social sciences).

One of these researchers said it was hard to find the psyochopaths. Oh really? I can pick them out almost instantly. A good tool is reversible arguments. E.g. one such a-hole working for a dutch airport that wanted to expand said of those who were opposed and stopped it multiple times in court that 'a few times is ok, but this is ridiculous'. The same can be said of those a-holes of that airport. There plannes had been blocked by the courts, and yet these a-holes kept going against it and making new plans and/or getting the judgement overturned. So, he did exactly what he accused the opposing party of because it was unacceptable.

Try it! Look at someone you think is the biggest a-hole you ever saw (which are typically psychopaths who care nothing about anyone except themselves), and try looking for a reversible argument. I bet you will find one ore probably multiple.

Once we get rid of these people in boards of companies, perhaps life will improve.

Oh yes, the programme also said that these psychopaths can manipulate, make themselves look good to some people, but their performance is crap... Doesn't surprise me again, reminds me of former Schiphol director Cerfontaine, who has never amounted to anything, never did anything useful for any company even if the guys who hire him think so.

Even worse actually is that such morons (don't call them clever, they are not, as I said, with a few things to look out for you can easily push through their bulllshit-artistry), are even gettign honorary jobs at universities, perverting students...

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1, Interesting)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431556)

The "reversible argument" argument fits an observation I have frequently made during the past few years. There is what seems to be a growing category of people that frequently accuse their opposition of doing exactly what they are doing. It is very common in the shallow end of the US right wing gene pool.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431690)

And in the left wing too. As demonstrated by the reply.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432230)

And in the left wing too. As demonstrated by the reply.

There you go again

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431704)

It's pretty common in the shallow end of the US left wing gene pool too. It's gotten to the point that I just assume that anyone making accusations is probably guilty of whatever they're making accusations about.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431948)

It's pretty common in the shallow end of the US left wing gene pool too.

It's gotten to the point that I just assume that anyone making accusations is probably guilty of whatever they're making accusations about.

And you probably are, too.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

Kim0 (106623) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432436)

So, you claim he probably is guilty of being guilty of being guilty of being of being guilty of .... etc.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431748)

It's a corporate media spin tactic. Accuse the other guy of being guilty of the precise evils you're doing. Then you can't be accused of them by him or he'll look like an idiot. "no u" isn't a very successful debating tactic.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431866)

The "reversible argument" argument fits an observation I have frequently made during the past few years. There is what seems to be a growing category of people that frequently accuse their opposition of doing exactly what they are doing.

I absolutely agree. You see this sort of thing time and time again in arguments about climate change and evolution. The mainstream science will be described as a religion by uneducated people who display a lack of understanding of the science and who just "believe" that climate change or evolution is wrong.

Or you have the claims that climate scientists are just toeing the line because they are just in it to get funding. These claims originate from think tanks that are funded (at least in part) by the established energy companies who stand to lose from the move to renewable energy sources.

Unlike my sibling posters, I can't think of any examples from the left wing political spectrum. I really did want to include an example here from the more extreme environmentalist argument to avoid making this seem like a partisan argument, but I just don't see this sort of argument happening. It is not like environmentalists are claiming that the people responsible for deforestation care too much for the environment!

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1, Insightful)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432200)

Look no further then social constructionist for liberal "consciousness raised" moralistic, busy-body, self-defeating madness. This includes things like the war on violence in the media, which I wrote an essay on [pageofswords.net], or anything in the nature-nurture debate, which includes the feminist war on boys. (See Susan Pinker's The Sexual Paradox, or Christina Sommers' Who Stole Feminism.

When you start studying the political left under a critical eye, you will see all sorts of bizarre ignorance, which is protected with the same bloody-mindedness that we see from the far Right.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432424)

Thanks for replying. I agree that there is a lot of wishy-washy thinking out there, but I am still unsure from the topics that you raised what the actual argument is that the left is using that would actually apply to themselves?

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432170)

It is very common in the shallow end of the US right wing gene pool.

It is very common on all ends of the political spectrum. The shallow end of the US right-wing is probably worse, but don't fool yourself that liberals are saints. They often have equal and opposite ideological blind-spots, and engage in the same type of mirror image projections. (What you called reversible arguments.)

Radical liberals are just plain paranoid nutcases, and should be put on an island with dominionists christians, tea partiers, climate change deniers, 9/11 conspiracy nuts, racists, radical social constructionists, and all the busy-body moralists who think they need to protect the ignorant masses by shouting at them. We are talking about 20% of the population, and by my guess, republicans would only outnumber democrats by 1 or 2%.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (4, Interesting)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431590)

Junk ... this is an example of statistical manipulation for emphasis. If it is four times more likely to be psychopaths , and the ratio is 1 in a million. Then all you have is 4 in a million.

Simply put, these groups suffer from group think. Happens to every group, and we likley suffer from it as well (e.g. in any group of like thinking people say organized religions, sport clubs, political followers). They can walk down a one way dead and each will pat each other on the back all the way.

PS: Do not forget, it may take a marginal psychopath to run those companies. Your statistics did not say if these psychopaths are the successful CEOs or not.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (2)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431622)

I cannot say for Great Britain, but the estimated occurrence rate of people with Antisocial Personality Disorder is ~4%, about 1 in 25 people. Four times that would be about 1 in 6. Beyond that, it all ignores the broader issue of Cluster B personality disorders (IE: Antisocial, Narcissistic, Histrionic, Borderline) in general, which make up just under 10% of the US population. I am curious as to how many of those make it into the board rooms, executive suites, and public offices. If that factor is even close to 4x, sweet lord...

I would take that 4 times with a grain of salt unless it is backed up with some evidence or at least some sound reasoning, though.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431692)

In any case, none of the numbers you played with would create a majority on a board, so the idea that boards act this way because they're psychopaths would appear to be countered, regardless of the actual numbers.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431726)

All I can suggest is that you do some cursory research into the tendency to acquire pawns and patrons with sociopaths and the tendency for Narcissists and Histrionics to develop similar networks.

Disclaimer: Possible != True (or false) necessarily, though.

Re:develop similar networks. (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431834)

I'm just an amateur and I attest to this.

If you can spin mirrors of chaos at 170 words per second you collect groupies. Simple as that. Then people see that the groupies are "on to something" so the second level crowds join.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431986)

It would, however, create a substantial minority. Given how those with cluster B disorders act, it would not in any way be surprising to find that the 60% would kowtow to the 40%.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (2)

damnal (801923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431892)

If I recall the one study correctly it was that successful CEOs often display some of the traits of an anti-social personality. Let me point out one thing, the moral ambivalence, from an anti-social personality, tends to lend itself well to strategic decisions. The risk-reward equation is much simpler when there isn't an emotional factor.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432240)

The risk-reward equation is much simpler when there isn't an emotional factor.

There often is an emotional factor that goes something like "Fuck this guy", or "lets screw over these people, because maybe I will get a thrill". The emotional systems of psychopaths are well geared towards power, money and sometimes sex. They can be well practiced bullies, that know exactly how to destroy someone.

Would you trust the risk-reward equation of someone who genuinely didn't give a shit about human suffering?

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

garaged (579941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432054)

Looking at how things are going on Mexico, it makes a lot of sense that psychos run big business, you can relate almos any politician with drug traffic, and that can besaid of a lot of the most rich people in the coutry, now add the 100,000 deads we had on the last 4 years and we have a pretty good case her

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (4, Interesting)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432220)

Junk

Interesting that you just think you know this, even though the statistical rate of psychopaths is 1-4% for men.

Every human being should do themselves a favour and watch Kathryn Shultz's TED lecture on being wrong [ted.com].

As for /needing/ to be a marginal psychopath to run a company -- this suggests that you really don't know what a psychopath is. A psychopath is a mimic [wikipedia.org] that cheats on the social programming on regular people. Thinking that psychopaths have a place in society is like think that pedophiles have a place in society. It is a dangerous pathology.

Perhaps you need to be a marginal pedophile to be a priest?

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (2, Informative)

darthwader (130012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431634)

Your "reversible argument" test would work about as well as the "see if they have two eyes and a nose" test. For a test to be useful, you need to ensure:
a) If a person meets the criteria of the test, they are a psychopath.
b) If a person isn't a psychopath, they won't meet the criteria of the test.

Reversible arguments are really common in all humans, not just psychopaths. It's a common belief that when other people do something, it's bad, but when I do the same thing, it's OK. Generally this is justified by the already-established belief that I'm right, and the other people are wrong.

Psychopaths are defined by a lack of empathy and emotional depth, and they are generally really good at faking empathy and emotions. They are extremely hard to test for.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431678)

I can pick them (psychopaths) out almost instantly.

That's bravado talking (or "I call BS"). I don't think calling corp. boards members "psychopaths" as a blanket statement is helpful. Inept perhaps. And making statements like "I can spot 'em" is just plain rubbish. The true psychopaths, serial murderers, go for years undetected. Where were you when the last few were finally caught? Psychopaths are in fact not easy to spot; the only distinguishing factor that differentiates psychos from the rest of the population is the way they think. They blend in in all ways otherwise. In fact, they are usually down right charming. Are you saying you can read people's minds? But putting the boards of corps on par with them is just silly talk.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431860)

If the only difference was how they thought, then no one would care about psychopaths. But they do, so obviously, there's some difference in actions.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (4, Informative)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431708)

The reversible argument is just a common pastime that allows people to try to dump blame for something on others. It is not unique to sociopaths. What you are looking for is a systematic disregard for the rules and standards of society and violating the rights of others, especially including breaking those in such a way as they do not usually get punished for it. This can be either because of careful planning, manipulation of peers, making it a hassle for others to stop them, appealing to pity, political influence, etc...

To put it frankly, you are looking for a pervasive, but not necessarily omnipresent, pattern.

A few things to help you out though:

- They do not honor commitments unless it is specifically in their self interest to do so, such as to impress someone important.

- When they are confronted, they will almost never admit responsibility unless they themselves recognize it is advantageous to do so. They will usually either fly off into a rage to scare you away or others into stopping you or launch into a ridiculous appeal for pity, complete with all sorts of BS mind-games like the one you mentioned.

- They get board easy and are frequently impulsive. So, they like to find people to brag about their exploits to if they cannot find something or someone new to torment and destroy, bonus points if they can torment someone while bragging to them.

- They feel that being antisocial makes them smarter than everyone else, because having a conscience retards us and makes us easy to mess with.

- They like collecting tools to do their dirty work for them. But, will actively eliminate anyone deemed to be a competitive threat to them, often using the aforementioned.

- They can mimic complex emotional expressions, but the top half of their face frequently does not match the rest of the body.

- One tell tail I have noticed is the wicked "I have won!" gleeful smile accompanied by hollow eyes when they are actively terrorizing someone or something and getting away with it.

That ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would...

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (3, Informative)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431942)

Speaking of bullshit-artistry, you just constructed a nearly-incoherent post that consists of slapping a new name on hypocrisy and claiming that you can pick psychopaths (a group of people known for their ability to lie) out almost instantly, and you got a +4 insightful mod out of it. Way to go!

By the way, you should contact the psychiatric association of whatever country you live in, I'm sure they'll be interested in your amazing ability to diagnose mental ailments.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

MurukeshM (1901690) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432030)

Ha! here's the psychopath. He just manipulated 5 morons into giving him mod points. El neato!

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432056)

Holy crap, the tl;dr temptation is strong here. Maybe use some line breaks, or something.

There are two problems with mandating tests for sociopathy:

1) False positives.
and 2) Sociopaths will beat the test.

Re:Do a test to find the psychopaths/sociopaths... (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432150)

and try looking for a reversible argument.

I believe what you are talking about is called a mirror image projection. You see, we project on others all the time. Everyone does it. It is part of standard mundane human madness. So when someone disagrees with you, it is because they don't listen. The mind actually contrives to make you unaware that you are not the one listening.

Now you have two people saying that each doesn't listen to each other.

When someone is in denial -- ie: all of us -- we will project our ignorance onto those who try to confront us about what we refuse to see or do. With narcissism (a rough the technical term for an asshole or bully), they almost always cause problems, and then blame them on other people. This drives everyone nuts -- hence the label, asshole.

Since narcissists (like everyone else) are in denial about their behaviour, they always accuse everyone else of exactly what they are doing. So they see themselves as the victim (even though they are the bully), or the person who listens to others (even though people are afraid to tell them anything).

Your test would not distinguish a narcissist from a psychopath, who has different cognitive deficits. Psychopaths can read the emotions of others, but the only emotion that is internally working is the drive for money, power, and sometimes sex. They honestly have no heart or moral scruples (to greater or lesser degrees).

They generally have superior intelligence, flat emotion, are perfect liers, superficially charming, and *extremely* difficult to spot. The standard test involves digging around in the subjects past, since you cannot believe a word that they say, or trust what their current "social circle" has to say about them.

On a scale of 1-10... (2)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431524)

...Most boards and CEO's score a doofus factor of 11. And, they are darned proud of that! It shows true innovation.

Re:On a scale of 1-10... (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431666)

Sadly when you are dealing with a doofus corp you can't even hire from within because middle management is usually dipshits as well.

I had one client that I told I didn't have time to be their admin after setting up their system, but I'd put them in touch with a couple of competent admins that were rock solid, take their pick. What did they do? Some PHB decided 'they cost too much! i know a guy who's a wiz at computers! I bet he could do it" and I bet the admins out there can already see where THIS is going.

Well I get called back in a little over a year after their "wiz" got caught looking at porn and running a Q3 server when he was supposed to be working and they were having "little problems"...little problems my Irish ass. this genius had GOT RID OF THE DESKTOPS that I had bought because they were 'too weak" and built gamer desktops piecemeal from tigerdirect, so give up making images or deploying anything as NOTHING matched, got rid of my standard Sonicwall for a bunch of those shitty blue DLink routers and was using a bunch of HOME CONNECTIONS from various ISPs. Somebody want more speed? he'd hire another ISP. Needless to say I had to shitcan the whole thing but the PHB had already gotten his bonus and moved on so didn't get the blame.

And it is THAT, that right there, that to me marks the dufus problem in a nutshell. it is upward failure where doing dumbshit yields a quick gain followed by a HORRIBLE outcome, but the gain gets the dufus moved up or a "selling point" on his resume and he/she is out of their before the excrement hits the bladed cooling device.

I mean how many guys here have dealt with a company butchering IT and then they acted amazed when the shit falls apart? or tries to get too much done with too little and the first real problem is a trainwreck of biblical proportions? That is why I got out of corporate, got tired at beating my head against the wall while dealing with shit that went right off the stupid meter scale. Hell I have a buddy still in who actually got drug to regional HQ by a PHB that wanted him fired because, and I quote "You have NO RIGHT to tell me who I can speak to! You WILL let my emails through from Melissa [wikipedia.org] through or you're fired!" That's right folks, he was fighting FOR the right to get infected! Lucky the regional head knew a tiny bit and watched the news so he knew what the Melissa bug was, otherwise he could have been fired.

I just can't take that level of dumbshit anymore, I just can't. At least with SOHOs, SMBs, and Home Users, they KNOW they don't know shit and that is why they hire me, so that I can tell them what to do and help them be smart and safe. With corporate there always seemed to be someone who knew just enough to be dangerous as hell, and had just enough power to serious fuck the whole works. Some guy who thinks he knows IT, or some bean counter who think the gear will last another two years when they cheapskated and bought cheap shit in the first place that started dying when the warranty went, just ignorant dumb stupid ass...ugh. If you still do corporate? My prayers are with you friend, may you have a strong stomach and have an immunity to headaches.

Re:On a scale of 1-10... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432102)

Pretty sure you shouldn't be working with anyone's network if you can't roll out an image that supports multiple host types.

Re:On a scale of 1-10... (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432178)

As long as the HAL isn't too different, you can image a Windows machine using only native drivers, and install 3rd party drivers post image rollout. But having to work with a bunch of custom gaming rigs in an office environment is a major PITA for a number of reasons. 1. They're not stable machines by virtue they could be over-clocked. Also, slapping random parts together can yield some pretty interesting compatibility issues down the line. 2. Non-uniform hardware is being used per machine. Can make replacement and testing a bitch 3. No extended warranty, and only the original builder keeps track of the hardware recepts. 4. Future upgrading and troubleshooting takes more time and research. Time = money in business.

Re:On a scale of 1-10... (2)

PrimeNumber (136578) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432344)

You are talking about corporate, academia I am finding out to my chagrin, is no better and in many cases actually worse. Case in point: I am one of two developers (senior of the two) hired to work on a new web project at a respected university. The junior "developer" from day one argued (and almost convinced) management that we should use the standard install images given to students with all control panel/configuration functionality disabled and locked down.

Failing that, he then thinks because he took a "project management" class from a cert. factory, convinces our management to design applications like one would in Access, because well thats what he did when he designed in-house Access applications, and he is "qualified" so it must be right. Being academics they swallow this shite like a crack-deprived prostitute.

Now management has announced this great work is worthy of a lateral promotion (he hasn't managed to write any code that has worked in 6 months) because they "are trying to find something he is good at".

This is just the small cherry on top of the shit mountain of endless, childish, degrading, touchy-feely debates on a daily basis, because everything has to be vetted and discussed "academic style". In this world politics is king, accomplishments, experience, and "real-world" knowledge mean nothing. All aspects of my programming job are "subjective" and need debate, micro management to the sub-atomic level.

Recently, with mgmt. and my incompetent coworker, I found myself explaining and needless to say, debating the merits of data validation. I discovered everything I know about data validation doesn't apply there, because they know the people that enter the data, and they do a good job and therefore just don't know if data validation is worth the time and extra cost. I argued for data validation as any competent developer would.

I lost this argument. Fuck. Me.

I will take your corporate job, at least you don't have fucking nightmares and get chest pains whilst thinking about the future need to debate object oriented programming or error trapping.

Hudsucker Proxy (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431544)

I firmly believe that starting with Carly HP's stock has been purposed trashed so it could be shorted and then pop back up when the "problem" is removed. Once you get that big you can no longer raise your stock by leaps and bounds, it's time to play yo-yo with the stock price and hope you don't sink the ship.

But if you do there's still ways to profit from it...

Re:Hudsucker Proxy (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431598)

Although driving the stock price down was a deliberate action, I propose the actual intent was to decimate ( or worse) the ranks of the engineers. Actual engineers with years of experience and knowledge are expensive; 3rd world factory drones are cheaper and less troublesome. Note the complete lack of invention in HP as of late. The company had to buy 3PAR in order to stay relevant in storage.

Driving the stock price down is a one-time good deal. Redirecting funds from operating expenses to executive bonuses and pay is continuous.

Re:Hudsucker Proxy (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431660)

"I firmly believe that starting with Carly HP's stock has been purposed trashed so it could be shorted "

That should be illegal. If the CEO or board did they should go to jail and pay out of pocket for all the losses and sued into an oblivion. ... But who am I kidding in this day and age? Too much corporate power corrupting everyone as far as the eye can see.

Shorting for those who do not understand what it means is basically selling somehting you do not even have. You then buy it later and then transfer it over. If the price goes down in 24 hours then you sold what you didn't have for less than when you buy and therefore skim the trim.

Shorting started when people sold fur coats then didn't own and waited for the shipment to come through.

Perhaps this is why HFC or Flash trading is so popular. They can quickly sell a stock they don't own and buy it when it losses value a few micro seconds later and skim the tiny .001 cent profits in mass volume? I dunno ...

Interesting problem (3, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431558)

Interesting considering that board members are elected BY stockholders, and are supposed to represent their interests. Let them vote for the craziest folks they dare, as long as they vote for them. It seems silly that you would subject board members to arbitrary tests when they've won the acclamation of their shareholders.

Of course this highlights a big problem with corporate governance, namely that boards are elected by stockholders, but a combination of stockholder disinterest and large institutional and mutual fund investment in firms has led to the composition of the board ballot being decided by the CEO and management.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. If you don't want "doofuses" on your board of directors, don't vote for them. Setting up some sort of independent review system is simply going to present stockholders with another stream of information to ignore. If you believe in democratic corporate governance you have to let people vote for who they want, and accept the responsibility for what happens to the business. The fact that Carol Bartz did a pretty lame job running AOL, and that the company has been on a death spiral ever since the Time Warner merger -- and for practical reasons will probably never figure out how to make their combined business a going concern -- has a lot more to do with the poor performance of the firm, notwithstanding the board.

Re:Interesting problem stockholders have no real s (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431606)

Actually the courts have restricted the nomination of directors on the corp proxy statement to those nominated by the incumbents. Unless you have a lot of money you can't win a proxy fight. The club protects itself with nominating committees picking only those good ole persons who fit their mold. The SEC tried to let 5% of shareholders nominated director candidates on the corp proxy, but the incumbents said it would be the end of the world and went to court and won that the SEC did not do the job right. So a shareholder (small) really can only sell. Now if you have 15% of the company or more you can probably get the boards attention. Today board elections remind me of elections in the old soviet union, one candidate in most cases. So corp america is really an ole (boys and girls) club.

Re:Interesting problem stockholders have no real s (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431680)

Icahn really wants a new board and threatened the existing board he would do just that if they didn't fire Yang and quickly sell its assets to Microsoft. He has the dough to get a new board and I wonder if he is wiling to do just that with Yahoo?

I am really surprised it is this hard to find a new board. I wish it were easier to do so as many are useless and should go.

Re:Interesting problem (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431738)

Interesting considering that board members are elected BY stockholders, and are supposed to represent their interests. Let them vote for the craziest folks they dare, as long as they vote for them.

Note that the only people on the proxy ballot are the ones provided by the board, who, amazingly enough, generally only provide you with one candidate to vote for in each position. Write-ins are generally not permitted, although you *can* vote *against* the board-provided candidate. Note also that you are not allowed to know or organize the other stockholders.

Re:Interesting problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431840)

This is worse than I thought. I always figured that at least large insitutional investors were swaying the elections. In theory, that could do some good.

OTOH, I feel less guilty about not voting the few proxies I get. It's always "do you want to vote Smith or Jones for this" and they could both be parakeets for all I know.

Re:Interesting problem (1)

Mateorabi (108522) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431934)

Note also that you are not allowed to know or organize the other stockholders.

So all shareholders that attend the annual meeting must wear ski masks and use first names only?

Re:Interesting problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431838)

The fact that Carol Bartz did a pretty lame job running AOL, and that the company has been on a death spiral ever since the Time Warner merger -- and for practical reasons will probably never figure out how to make their combined business a going concern -- has a lot more to do with the poor performance of the firm, notwithstanding the board.

AFAIK Carol Bartz has never held a position of any kind at AOL.

Normally I would overlook a typo (maybe you meant Autodesk?) but then you go on to pontificate about the Time Warner merger and what a disaster that has been under Bartz's watch. I don't believe you know the first thing about Carol Bartz and her abilities.

Steve Case of AOL and Gerald Levin of Time Warner merged their respective companies in 2000, closing the deal in 2001.

Re:Interesting problem (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431944)

The "stockholders" consist of fund managers and traders who are simply engaged in gambling. They don't care about who runs the company, because they will likely be out of the stock by the end of the week. Most of them probably have little to no idea what the company even does. In the case of HFT operations, shares are held for milliseconds, with no human even knowing which companies were invested in.

Amidst all this is the fabled "stockholder"; the retail investor who probably still views his purchase of the most minor of minority stakes as a "prudent investment decision". Even as his money is swallowed whole and his remaining equity preyed upon by the rotten system, still he persists in investing in the stock market. Indeed, he may even beleive that NOT to invest his money there would be irresponsible.

The whole stock market and share system has become a den of rank iniquity. But people still believe in it, and still trust their life savings to it. Our society needs to find a new economic creed to believe in.

Re:Interesting problem (3, Interesting)

smellotron (1039250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432116)

The "stockholders" consist of fund managers and traders who are simply engaged in gambling. They don't care about who runs the company, because they will likely be out of the stock by the end of the week.

You should review Yahoo's DEF-14A [sec.gov]. Yes, the top three stockholders appeared to be funds. No, they're probably not trading it actively, because trying to buy or sell 90 million shares is guaranteed to move the price against you. Yes, they're interested in the company's chief officers, but probably only for quarterly profit, and not the long-term (decades and beyond) success of Yahoo!.

In the case of HFT operations, shares are held for milliseconds, with no human even knowing which companies were invested in.

You can bet your ass that every HFT operation knows YHOO; there is always a person behind the algorithm. And yes, there's probably a large share volume being traded by HFT algorithms and market makers. However, the total number shares owned by these organizations at "voting time" is probably next to nothing. You don't get voting rights just for having the stock passed through your hands: you actually have to hold onto it (at least for one day), which is antithetical to any form of day-trading.

The whole stock market and share system has become a den of rank iniquity. But people still believe in it, and still trust their life savings to it.

Someone who is entrusting their entire savings to the stock market is either (1) young, (2) stupid, or (3) isn't paying attention. For retirement investments, the stock market is advertised as high-risk/high-reward and is not suitable for lump-sum liquidation. I agree with you that too many Americans don't treat it this way, and this is a travesty. But please don't be bitter at the stock market for being the speculative arena that it always has been.

Re:Interesting problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432112)

Shareholders vote... for a list of people they've never heard of before, with no options. Even if regular political commercials are a pack of lies, you get to see the candidate and maybe hear something about him/her, and there is at least a possibility of choosing between candidates. The process of voting for a company's board is such a sham it's meaningless (the list contains as many members as the board needs, no extras to provide a choice.)

One time I actually withheld my vote for a politician who had been invited to serve on a board of directors (who had previously demonstrated zero knowledge of the field.) The result: not _everyone_ withheld support, so he got plenty of votes. Is there a cutoff? What happens if a candidate gets 50% or whatever? I suspect the board promptly calls a "special" session and votes in the guy they want as an emergency pick to fill the slot.

boards don't really make any sense (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431568)

They don't run companies effectively because they aren't really in charge of the company. Most board members do completely different things as day jobs. Some are on five or six boards. You cannot effectively run six multinational companies and also have a day job at a seventh, though you can surely succeed at pulling in seven salaries.

For example, when there were some shady stores about Cisco coming out earlier this year, I looked up their board to see who I could contact. Oh, one of them is the President of Stanford University. How much time do you think the President of Stanford spends keeping tabs on Cisco's corporate affairs, making sure that the company is run properly? Another one is, uh, Carol Bartz, until recently the CEO of Yahoo being discussed here. How much time do you think Carol Bartz took out of her Yahoo day job to make sure Cisco was being responsibly governed? Yet another Cisco board member; Michele Burns, CEO of Mercer, the world's largest H.R. consulting firm. Do you think she spent lots of her free time, when not running Mercer, to make sure Cisco is doing things right?

No, in practice, the boards don't have any idea what's going on, the CEOs all sit on each others' boards anyway, and the boards therefore leave things to the CEO, ignorance-is-bliss style, until someone forces them to care, either because the stock price is tanking, there is bad media attention, or unwelcome attention from prosecutors.

Re:boards don't really make any sense (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431700)

This is a very insightful comment - few people seem to understand how heavily corporate boards are "cross-pollinated" with one another's members. The same is basically true of the major shareholders for many companies as well. There's a prevailing notion that shareholders are basically a large and broad field of individual "Mom and Pop" investors when in many cases the shareholders constitute a small and deeply entrenched class of extremely wealthy individuals or trusts who own significant holdings across many industries.

Re:boards don't really make any sense (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431880)

The function of a board is oversight. You can't run a company by committee, and you can't run it with an unaccountable CEO either. More shareholder transparency would be good, but shareholders can't play this role because (a) they have even less time than boards do and (b) competitors could buy a single share of stock and gain access to all of a company's sensitive strategy.

So, boards are actually a pretty good idea. But that doesn't mean the implementation is always good. If you are CEO, you want a weak, uninvolved board.

Re:boards don't really make any sense (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432184)

So, boards are actually a pretty good idea. But that doesn't mean the implementation is always good. If you are CEO, you want a weak, uninvolved board.

Actually, you want the CEOs of the various companies whose boards you sit on to be the board that oversees you. You let them slide as they let you slide.

That's why even when the CEO is all but escorted from the building by security, they have job offers lined up before the door even closes behind them. There's people they've let slide who owe them one, and they're already known to be willing to play ball.

it's been done (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431614)

direct engineers at my past employers for about the last 10 years have had to undergo evaluations every year. this has never weeded out the bad engineers. it only succeeds in lowering the moral of all of them.

Firing always works (5, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431616)

James Carville, who was Clinton's right hand man just wrote advice to Obama, on how to look more compentent [cnn.com]. His advise was to do lots of firings to appear in charge and for them to be scapegoats.

It works for past presidents like Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Jr. Surely, the board did this for the same reason to appear like they are doing their jobs etc. Many in upper management reading this can relate to newer guys coming and firing people in order to appear all scary and powerful to their new employer.

Most of the smart people who pay attention can see right through this.

Re:Firing always works (1)

celle (906675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431832)

"James Carville, who was Clinton's right hand man just wrote advice to Obama, on how to look more compentent. His advise was to do lots of firings to appear in charge and for them to be scapegoats."

I'd rather our president actually be competent. He should be firing those that deserve it. Political games don't get work done, just theater for the idiots. The US seems to have lots of idiots these days.

Re:Firing always works (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431968)

Political games don't get work done, just theater for the idiots.

Political games can, however, determine who is in power for the next four years, which in turn has ramifications that can easily impact hundreds of millions of people. A democratic president might not have gone into Iraq the second time, for example.

Re:Firing always works (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432042)

I agree with both you and Celle. The problem is I find the republican candidates scary and very far to right. Bachman doesn't believe the Earth is more than 5,000 years old and does not grasp basic economics as evident with her views of the federal reserve or how gas can magically become $2.00 a gallon.

I think part of the blame is not Obama but the very hard right refusing to work with him. However, he has had bad staff that I would have fired if I were him by the first summer in office. His political director or team I should say is one of them. Obama likes having 5 people argue rather than having 1 guy as a director to guide him etc.

I personally feel he is in over my head but the opposition is competent but very extreme and can do serious damage because they hold ideology above all else. What a mess. I just may not vote next year.

Re:Firing always works (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432270)

I personally feel he is in over my head but the opposition is competent but very extreme and can do serious damage because they hold ideology above all else. What a mess. I just may not vote next year.

The irony of this, is that conservatism is *not* supposed to be about belief and ideology, but about the status quo, and organic sensible change. The current political right represents truly dramatic progressive politics -- they really want to shake things up. That is what liberalism is supposed be about: we can use policy to change the country. Conservatism is meant to resist change. After-all, you don't know what you don't know, and liberals can be really arrogant about their wide-eyed ideas.

My how times have changed.

I read a very insightful long essay (short book) on the future of conservatism [readings.com.au], that points to the Thatcher/Reagan era as the time when the political right started to embrace progressive politics. The Tea Party have taken that to a truly astounding level of ideological fanaticism. I liked it when conservatives didn't believe in stuff so strongly, and were more interested in a grounded understanding of the problems facing society.

Re:Firing always works (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432302)

The problem is I find the republican candidates scary and very far to right.

You could always grow up. A lot of damage has been done to the US because of fear and greed. I don't buy the attempt to equate fiscal responsibility with religion.

I personally feel he is in over my head but the opposition is competent but very extreme and can do serious damage because they hold ideology above all else. What a mess. I just may not vote next year.

Sounds good to me. Maybe you shouldn't vote. While I am leery of both the legislative and executive branches being dominated by the Republican party, such a thing would be able to reverse the worst excesses of the Obama administration (and maybe of the Bush administration as well). And we can always vote in Democrats (or whatever viable second party exists at the time) in 2014.

Why is this a surprise? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431714)

I've worked for several medium-sized and large-sized companies, and interacted with executives and board members in diverse industries. One things I've learned is that the experience, intelligence, or effectiveness of those individuals does not seem to be the reason they are in the position. The single determining factor appears to be their ability to persuade the person hiring them that they are qualified.

If I posit that executives select "defensively" -- so that their peers or subordinates are less qualified then they are and therefore less likely to take their position -- over time the quality of executives will decline, with the result being the predictable present condition.

To prevent this, we need objective measurements for executive and board qualifications, and compensation structures that incent "good" behavior where good = "best for the company."

Market maturing faster than leadership (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431730)

At the end of the dot-com boom, people thought the market 'had matured' and I had my doubts. Well, they did get over the gold rush of buying everything they saw and acting on every idea anyone had, but the players that remained felt they had accomplished something and believed they knew it all. But in reality, the dot-com bust signalled the pre-adolescent period of the market -- approximately the same age kids begin to understand what death is.

Many of the players are still reacting to the changes of the market and few are leading. Yahoo lost its command of the market long before the dot-com and have been sustaining themselves on their old glory and people's reluctance to change their chat and email addresses. They don't listen to their users and often abuse and discourage them when they use their services in ways yahoo hadn't anticipated. Their teenage arrogance made them feel they knew it all and had it all under control and when they finally saw they didn't, well... the reactions and results speak for themselves don't they?

HP and Yahoo just look like a pack of fools and I think many will agree that they simply are. And while Google encourages fandom in all forms by its users and customers, HP and Yahoo have a record and reputation for discouraging, suppressing and even litigating against their users. (Only the MPAA and RIAA can actually sue their customers and expect to survive... not so much Yahoo and HP and their ilk... they don't have a true oligopoly in such a fluid market as 'the net')

I'm confused... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431750)

Why is it that sacking peons as fast and impersonally as possible makes you a strong, visionary, leader who is willing to make tough decisions; but sacking your CEO good and hard makes you a panicky dumbass?

Re:I'm confused... (2)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431970)

Why is it that sacking peons as fast and impersonally as possible makes you a strong, visionary, leader who is willing to make tough decisions; but sacking your CEO good and hard makes you a panicky dumbass?

Because your CEO is well-connected enough to have friends in the media.

Re:I'm confused... (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432236)

People who have the ear of the press have seen one their own callously fired by voicemail. That is, they have seen one of their own treated exactly the same way they have treated millions of peons year after year and that frightens them and bursts their psychotic delusion that they are somehow intrinsically better than the people they treat like garbage.

I have seen doofus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431872)

and it's name is Dell. The co-CEO walks away with millions and leaves the company wallowing in the low teens. Pays a small fine that was a fraction of his profit from the company. Destroys morale and splits town.

Multi-faceted issue. (2)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431896)

Remember when that flight attendant pulled the emergency line, told everyone to fuck off and quit in a most convincing style?

He was a bit of a hero in many peoples minds. The Yahoo! CEO! deserves at least as much of this as him; but the underlying problem remains the same.

Holding a BOD to any sort of responsibility is a great theory; but it runs against current practice. Often, the appointment is be a reward for sychophants, rent boys or sadsacks. Changing this could be a major upset of corporate organization.

it's all a fucking big boys club and frat party (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37431924)

they look out for one another, competent people at the bottom know more. however since the competent people are not in the fucking "club" they stay there at the bottom and everything falls apart. the fuckers still get out with tons of money and stories to make them look good. it's a fucking big boys club, it's fucking disgusting.

Stumbled upon an interesting search topic (3, Interesting)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431936)

Check out the search history for "Carly Fiorina [slashdot.org]" on slashdot and you'll find a slew of articles leading up to this one:

2002: Fiorina says HP may get out of the PC business.
2004: The Uncertain Promise of Utility Computing
2005: HP CEO Carly Fiorina to step down.
. . . An Engineer's view of Carly Fiorina's Leadership (Story later retracted by TechnologyReview on the grounds that they can no longer vouch for it. Interesting.. )
. . . HP and Apple Separate; Apple gets custody. (OOPS!)
2006: Forbes now thinks Carly saved HP
. . . HP regains throne as top PC maker
2007: Ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina hired by Fox News
2011: This article, which suggests, again, that Fiorina was perhaps making the right moves all along.

As much as the geek crowd hated to see what was happening to HP, it definitely that perhaps Cloud Computing and handhelds were the go too thing after all and that the execs that fired her just couldn't see The Big Picture. One for sure though, is as sad as it was to see the engineering innovation go, it's even sadder to see the company struggling to recover from the series of "oops" that sent it into it's current downward spiral.

Re:Stumbled upon an interesting search topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432032)

There's this whole group of people that think Carly ruined HP. I'd agree she ruined Compaq, but I'm not sure about HP. Once they got into the PC business, they should have stuck it out. The board has never supported this and it shows. They finally got a puppet CEO that will do exactly what they want and now we see the chaos. The Mark Hurd fiasco was because he wouldn't do what they wanted. They wanted an excuse to fire him.

Board function? (1)

Nos9 (442559) | more than 2 years ago | (#37431954)

Isn't the function of the Board to oversee the running of the company by Upper management? The board nominally works for/represents the shareholders. Who would the proposed new oversight committee represent? What happens when we decide that this new oversight committee isn't doing it's job properly? Do we appoint yet another committee to oversee the committee that oversees the board that oversees the upper management?
    I don't think the CEO of a company has it as simple as many make it out to be, if any business school graduate could do it for a fraction of the price they would be doing it. There are plenty of companies out there and if anyone with a degree could do the job they would all be leading those companies into becoming much larger and more successful companies.

A Challenge to all. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432018)

Has anybody ever worked for a company where the senior management/executives weren't useless douchebags?

Apple and SnOracle employees are pre-considered counterbalancing and need not chime in.

Re:A Challenge to all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432334)

I work for VA Linux, er, VA Research, er, OSDN, er, SourceForge, er Geek.Net. On second thought, never mind.

Re:A Challenge to all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37432390)

A few years ago I encountered one of these last remaining unicorns. After a while he realized what was going on, bailed out and opened his own start-up to get as far away from there as possible.

Complexity (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432350)

"The European Union is considering new regulations that would require an independent evaluation of the board every three years"

Sounds like a bureaucratic solution to me. In the olden days they just waited until a mismanaged company went under. Nowadays you need additional people and laws to prevent inefficiencies. I'm wondering whether the bureaucratic solution will cost more than the gains from spanking the CEOs will bring in.

The problem is the stock market (1)

Corbets (169101) | more than 2 years ago | (#37432384)

I honestly believe that the root cause of all this is the casino we call the stock market. People no longer buy stocks for long term gains; instead, speculators and HFTers trade in the very short term.they're gambling, not investing.

This means that the shareholders have a short term interest. As the BoD's duty is to the shareholders, they are actually doing their job when igoring the long-term and focusing on the short. Thus, you see idiotic actions focused on share price rather than value creation.

The right answer might be to make all stock purchases a minimum of 2 years or something, I don't know.

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