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Why Hiring the 'Best' People Produces the Least Creative Results (qz.com) 333

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report written by Scott E. Page, who explains why hiring the "best" people produces the least creative results: The burgeoning of teams -- most academic research is now done in teams, as is most investing and even most songwriting (at least for the good songs) -- tracks the growing complexity of our world. We used to build roads from A to B. Now we construct transportation infrastructure with environmental, social, economic, and political impacts. The complexity of modern problems often precludes any one person from fully understanding them. The multidimensional or layered character of complex problems also undermines the principle of meritocracy: The idea that the "best person" should be hired. There is no best person. When putting together an oncological research team, a biotech company such as Gilead or Genentech would not construct a multiple-choice test and hire the top scorers, or hire people whose resumes score highest according to some performance criteria. Instead, they would seek diversity. They would build a team of people who bring diverse knowledge bases, tools and analytic skills. That team would more likely than not include mathematicians (though not logicians such as Griffeath). And the mathematicians would likely study dynamical systems and differential equations.

Believers in a meritocracy might grant that teams ought to be diverse but then argue that meritocratic principles should apply within each category. Thus the team should consist of the "best" mathematicians, the "best" oncologists, and the "best" biostatisticians from within the pool. That position suffers from a similar flaw. Even with a knowledge domain, no test or criteria applied to individuals will produce the best team. Each of these domains possesses such depth and breadth, that no test can exist. When building a forest, you do not select the best trees as they tend to make similar classifications. You want diversity. Programmers achieve that diversity by training each tree on different data, a technique known as bagging. They also boost the forest 'cognitively' by training trees on the hardest cases -- those that the current forest gets wrong. This ensures even more diversity and accurate forests.

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Why Hiring the 'Best' People Produces the Least Creative Results

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  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @09:57PM (#56102265) Journal
    The headline is garbage, but there is some truth in the waterfall of words in that summary: we have become a nation of specialists. Not only are we specialists, but the amount to which we've specialized is actually quite stunning.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:33PM (#56102449)

      The headline is garbage

      Indeed. TFA is pure conjecture. It provides no actual evidence that hiring worse people leads to better or more creative results.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        1% inspiration -> 99% perspiration. The people you hire for the inspiration are often not that good at the perspiration and the same goes the other. Those good at the perspiration are most often really bad at the inspiration bits, just not their forte, limited imagination and the dreamers are usually distracted from the perspiration bit by their imagination. This of course relates to intellectual pursuits, perspiration of the mind, sweating out complex solution based upon the idea presented and making it

      • by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @02:10AM (#56103013)
        From the headline, I expected conjecture. Then I clicked the article and it struck me as a rant.

        When someone writes an article like this, they should include facts or at least legitimate testable theories. This was more like a one man jam session to listen to his own voice.

        Oh... and what he considered genius with regards to mapping the space between the cars... utter crap. The problem with mathematicians is that they focus on optimization in the worst possible places. If they took a course on algorithms or at least studied graph theory, they would understand that you can model the cars and the space and derive what's not that. In addition, Modelling traffic jams in government sponsored research cannot be done because it requires a great deal of algorithmic data which is highly sensitive. For example, a person driving in direction X in a vehicle of type Y at time Z will close gaps between vehicles(50% chance), block people from merging ahead towards the bottleneck (75% chance), play music rich in bass loud enough to rattle nearby cars (90%). The result of this is that the neighboring cars will behave more aggressively. Seniors will be disturbed but submissive. Middle aged white men who drive larger or sportier vehicles will become extremely aggressive. Etc...

        I've been writing traffic modelling software for decades because I find it entertaining and relaxing. I would then occasionally move a few traffic cones in the morning and traffic would flow nicely both ways... until someone realized the cone shouldn't be there. The #1 factor I considered at all times was how does the behavior of one type of person impact the behavior of those around them. So, I'd place cones in places that would force people to do the right thing as opposed to permitting and therefore encouraging opportunism.
        • I've been writing traffic modelling software for decades because I find it entertaining and relaxing. I would then occasionally move a few traffic cones in the morning and traffic would flow nicely both ways... until someone realized the cone shouldn't be there. The #1 factor I considered at all times was how does the behavior of one type of person impact the behavior of those around them. So, I'd place cones in places that would force people to do the right thing as opposed to permitting and therefore encouraging opportunism.

          That is wonderful.

        • When someone writes an article like this, they should include facts or at least legitimate testable theories.

          I agree with the spirit of what you're trying to say, but the word you're looking for is "hypotheses" not "theories". A hypothesis is what has to be tested before one can make a rule or a theory. In fact, tested multiple times by multiple labs/institutions/authorities. It takes a shedlod of experimental evidence before a hypothesis becomes a theory.

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          The problem with mathematicians is that they focus on optimization in the worst possible places. If they took a course on algorithms or at least studied graph theory, they would understand that you can model the cars and the space and derive what's not that.

          You do realize that graph theory is a branch of mathematics that long predates computers, right? Euler published the first paper on the topic on 1736, on the bridges of Konigsberg, and humorously the first textbook was published in 1936 by a mathematician named Konig.

          Dual graphs - one example of modeling the "space in between" (though not perhaps what you had in mind) are an old idea as well. The delightful 3Blue1Brown YouTube channel has a neat video on using graph duality [youtube.com] to prove Euler's Formula (his

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Ha, this is awesome [youtube.com]. The 3Blue1Brown guy sends a bunch of YouTube math and physics channels a disguised interview question to see whether they know graph theory. Also a great list of YouTube channels to follow. Will the popularizers who aren't math profs figure it out, or will they make a Parker Square of it?

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          So, you're the one fucking up my commute! j/k And yes, the article is crap.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        It's not even arguing for hiring worse people, it's arguing that we don't have a clear, reliable way to determine who's the best, so we should use different criteria instead. That's got nothing to do with whether hiring the best people is a bad idea.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:37PM (#56102471) Homepage

      The headline is garbage, but there is some truth in the waterfall of words in that summary: we have become a nation of specialists. Not only are we specialists, but the amount to which we've specialized is actually quite stunning.

      I'm not against the idea that a project might need many different competencies and functions. What I am against is the idea that we'll have better solutions if we put it to a popular vote. Because that's my usual experience with "diverse teams that aren't necessarily very bright", to rephrase the argument. Competent people usually know what they know and don't know. Incompetent people go through life like a bull in a china store, they don't mean to break things but they leave disaster in their wake. I've been through that at work, the only reason my part of the system is working is that I've ignored 90% of the "input". Everything else is so buggy and crappy they're considering a rewrite before 1.0 is delivered. Meritocracy is fine, mediocracy is terrible. YMMV.

      • Often creation by committee produces mediocre products. Not always but often ;)

        Just my 2 cents ;)
        • Yet, also often but not always, someone who's the top of their field will be paralyzed by the need for perfection and create endless complexity and delays as they seek a solution worthy of their reputation rather than something that just works.
      • Who is going to accomplish more interesting things, a competent person who lacks confidence or an incompetent person who has lots of confidence? The former will do safe things very well but they'll never take any risks. The latter will often fail spectacularly but may from time to time hit upon things that other people in the field would have thought would never work. They will however need competent people around them to actually turn it into reality.

        A prime example would be the success of Game of Thron

      • by theCoder ( 23772 )

        Incompetent people go through life like a bull in a china store, they don't mean to break things but they leave disaster in their wake.

        Have you ever seen a bull in a china shop [youtube.com]? I'm just saying, don't denigrate bulls by comparing them to incompetent people :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by msauve ( 701917 )
      It's all "I don't do well in a meritocracy, so I wrote a paper on why you should still hire me" bullshit. While I agree that past results aren't a guarantee of good future performance, in general, hiring under-performers assures a lack of future performance.

      We've specialized since the hunter/gatherer days. It's worked well so far.
      • I'm making a living by automating the mediocre... associate and professional level IT engineers. I'm also doing everything I can to eliminate the associate/professional level IT engineers who think that just because they're in a purchasing position, they're actually expert level.

        Then I'm going to work really hard on eliminating as many jobs as possible for people who are experts in one area and think that makes them understand their job. For example, I shot down a major network design recently after 4 CCIEs
        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          But they have no clue how software defined networking has been implemented in VMware

          No surprise there, VMWare engineers themselves aren't too sure.

          Also by using the words "software defined" without getting paid for it, you identified yourself as a phony.

    • by Fly Swatter ( 30498 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @01:01AM (#56102881) Homepage

      It is not about not hiring the best people, it is more about hiring people that are smart but perhaps not as experienced with what you want to achieve.

      The best people are well trained, they have been there and done that, the problem with this is that they already have preconceived notions of how to solve a problem. You do not get true innovation unless you have people that have not been there, and have not done that. These are the people that may have a different idea for achieving a solution, and that is where true innovation comes about.

      • The best people are well trained, they have been there and done that, the problem with this is that they already have preconceived notions of how to solve a problem. You do not get true innovation unless you have people that have not been there, and have not done that.

        It's a popular idea, but I've not seen any evidence that's actually true.

        • I have seen this in action, and it's a double-edged sword.

          There is equal chance of taking a lot longer to reinvent the wheel or not making anything of use as there is to really innovate.

          It can work if you have management willing to make it work, but it can flop if you don't have useful management. Good management understands what the goal is, and gives the team the time and freedom to explore. But good management also knows when to circle back to reality, and when to reign in and/or pull the plug on efforts

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The best people are well trained, they have been there and done that, the problem with this is that they already have preconceived notions of how to solve a problem. You do not get true innovation unless you have people that have not been there, and have not done that. These are the people that may have a different idea for achieving a solution, and that is where true innovation comes about.

        They're the ones making the news, like "rags to riches" stories. It's true that many people have strong preconceptions about what can be done, how it should be done and the tools/methods/technology to deliver it. But there's there's also quite many professionals who have worked the ins and outs of a system, figured out there has to be a better way and made huge, innovative improvements. That ignorance is some sort of requirement for innovation is a gross exaggeration.

        And even when we do have these "nobody h

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        You do not get true innovation unless you have people that have not been there, and have not done that. These are the people that may have a different idea for achieving a solution, and that is where true innovation comes about.

        This has to be the most superficial and least intelligent idea I've read in a while, and yet just a minute ago I was reading Trump twitter feed.

    • Imagine.

      Imagine four people are sitting in a bar talking about something. Something that they know about. There's a band playing. Someone sitting two tables away gets absolutely ratfaced and in the morning writes down what they think they overheard and posts it on teh interwebs.

    • The article's author argues that you shouldn't hire the objectively "best" person for the specific job but rather hire the person who adds the most diverse knowledge to the team. But isn't the person who adds the most to the team objectively the best person for the job?

      The author goes on to describe hiring processes I've never seen in 30 years of interviewing, working and hiring. Ranking resumes with analytics? Rankable multiple choice skill tests during or as a prelude to the interview? Do these things exi

      • Yes, they absolutely exist. I don't know how common they are, because I've mostly worked for somewhat sensible small and medium sized businesses, but I've definitely seen them.

        I did one interview for a pretty large business, above $1b in revenue, and this is how they did interviews. Something like a 3 hr interview, with a half-hour tour of the campus, half-hour "ask an employee anything" interview, half-hour "general interview", half-hour "specific job interview", and about an hour in between split up into

    • The problem with the summary is that it first overlooks something as simple as the difference in being the "best" within a category, or independent of context, and then when it finds its own mistake it passes it off as if it is an external mistake, a mistake made by other people, even a typical or institutionalized mistake.

      But it isn't, it is just a really really weak summary, with nothing to say, that uses a lot of words to make it sound like there was something there.

      You're right in that the most interest

  • by DoctorBonzo ( 2646833 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:00PM (#56102273)
    Well, we all want diversity, don't we?

    But it seems evidence in favor is lacking.

    Shouldn't there be numerous success stories, even anecdotal, if it's really all that favorable?
    • by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:10PM (#56102319)

      Good design is mostly invisible. You won't find success stories. What you'll find is failure stories where a non-diverse team failed to notice something blindingly obvious.

      Things like trackballs that are less useful if you're left-handed, or voice recognition systems which can't handle various accents [wired.com], or the JSF helmet that would kill most women if they tried to eject while wearing it [saveourskiesvt.org].

      • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:34PM (#56102459)

        What you'll find is failure stories where a non-diverse team failed to notice something blindingly obvious.

        Been watching CSPAN again, I see. :-)

      • voice recognition systems which can't handle various accents

        Has not a damned thing in the world to do with the diversity of the team (which, I assure you, in any of the major companies doing speech recognition contains people with all sorts of accents). Has to do with it being a hard problem.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Diversity in skills, not accents. Think of how many scientific studies could have benefited from including a statistician.

      • Things like trackballs that are less useful if you're left-handed,

        Any-hand trackballs are garbage ergonomically compared to specific-hand trackballs. If a particular manufacturer doesn't make a lefty model, by all means complain to them, but there are certain realities of the human hand which make it make more sense to build a trackball for one hand or the other. The classic Trackman Marble (or its immediate successor, the original Trackman USB and Trackman USB Wheel devices - mine is the latter, M/N T-BB18) solve basically every problem except pronation, and the new vers

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Or maybe differences in skin color and sex organs doesn't really provide diversity, but rather a crowd of groupthink morons.

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      You want diversity of point of views and skills, not "that" diversity.

      • People already naturally hire for diversity in skills, because that's actually useful.
        It all depends on what the business needs are, what skills we already have on the team, etc.

        Diversity in sexual orientation, race and all that shit is useless.

        • I disagree on both counts.

          Plenty of companies don't hire for diversity in skills. HR copy-pastes the same stupid requirements into every job requirement, and artificially limits applicants to those that sort-of have those skills. I've known a lot of people really angry that they struggled to get good employees because of HR's stupidity in this regard.

          Diversity in sexual orientation, race and all that shit is useless only if your customer base consists of straight, white males. If you are trying to appeal to

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      This whole article sounds like a glorified polemic on why you shouldn't hire white males, even if they've worked hard and earned it.

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )

      https://slashdot.org/~DoctorBonzo mused:

      Well, we all want diversity, don't we?

      Shouldn't there be numerous success stories, even anecdotal, if it's really all that favorable?

      I think the problem is the conflation of "diversity of skillsets" with "diversity of [sex/ethnicity/cultural background]". The former is, I think, unquestionably a Good Thing when you're trying to solve Big Problems or develop innovative stuff. The value of the latter is what's really open to question - and not because any particular [sex/ethnicity/cultural background] is of questionable value in and of itself, but because whether that [sex/ethnici

    • Well, we all want diversity, don't we?

      But it seems evidence in favor is lacking.

      Shouldn't there be numerous success stories, even anecdotal, if it's really all that favorable?

      For the successes it's going to mostly show up because you have a wider range of technical aptitudes, perspectives, and problem solving techniques.

      But even if you have an example of a gay black woman coming up with a really original idea you can't really attribute the idea to the race or sexuality. It's just something that particular person did. So I'm not even sure what a success story would actually look like other than cultural industries like Hollywood where the personal background is the part of the pe

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:14PM (#56102337)

    Me doing all the work, and a bunch of other people sitting on their asses.

    • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:31PM (#56102441)

      Me doing all the work, and a bunch of other people sitting on their asses.

      Hey, if it saves me from eventually having to redo all their crappy work, I'm all for it.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:44PM (#56102499)

        Every time I hear a professor, boss, etc. start talking "team assignment," I know its just a polite way of having the strong students/employees carry the weak ones. Instead of some people getting A's and some getting F's, everyone gets a C. Kurt Vonnegut would be proud.

        • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:55PM (#56102537)

          Every time I hear a professor, boss, etc. start talking "team assignment," I know its just a polite way of having the strong students/employees carry the weak ones. Instead of some people getting A's and some getting F's, everyone gets a C. Kurt Vonnegut would be proud.

          Anecdotal, but I will note that the team project in my systems programming class (in 1985) to write a linking loader was made easier by the fact that I knew C very well and the retired Navy guy, who wasn't as strong a programmer, could do octal and hex math in his head. (We both got A's.)

          • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

            I wish I had some similar anecdotes. Ideally, a team should be assembled with complementary skills like that. But most of the teams I've ever been a part of were usually just a sloppy way of covering up for some boss's bad hiring decisions or to help some kids graduate who hadn't earned it.

        • Every time I hear a professor, boss, etc. start talking "team assignment," I know its just a polite way of having the strong students/employees carry the weak ones.

          My wife failed three semesters of math courses in a row at the local community college because of group assignments. The community college was hyper focused on group work, as that would prepare students better for the real world where everyone works in teams. My wife would start out the semester doing fine, and then the group assignments would come out. After that the two people assigned to my wifes group would drop out of school. She'd try to do what she could, but she's not a rock star at math and couldn'

    • Yeah - I've worked with people who think like that - we usually call them control freaks because they think they're the only one able to understand or do anything.
      • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

        On one of the last teams I was on, half the team didn't even bother to show up for the team meetings. And many of the people who did show up refused to take any roles that required actual work. So if it makes me a control freak to be frustrated by that, then guilty as charged, I guess. Believe me, I would LOVE to be on a team where I could take a backseat and trust everyone else to even *try* to do the job. I'm the last person who wants to take the lead on anything, believe me. But it ends up being a choice

        • I've had to take the lead on a couple of projects due to mgmt fail recently. I'm watching for when it all comes back to bite me in the ass. Hopefully I'll see it and deal with it, but there are quite a number of ways to scapegoat someone, and many have that ability as their core competency.

          • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

            Yeah, sadly, there are a lot employees out there who are masters at avoiding work and deflecting blame onto others. I wish I was one of them. It would sure beat the hell out of having to take up their slack.

        • So you're on the internet shitting on your co-workers, you've got a sig that's bitching about SJWs, and the only thing stopping you from letting projects at work fail is that the failure might impact you personally.

          How, exactly, did you come to the conclusion that the problem is your coworkers and not your personality? Because you come across as pretty damn toxic to me.

  • The problem is in what constitutes "the best". I think people often gauge that against what they, themselves, know and/or are good/bad at or against some "standard" even though those may not be good criteria for the actual task or problem at hand. It may explain the perceived value of people who "think outside the box", which are often just instances of non-linear (or right-brain) thinking. Everyone is at a different place on the learning curve. Many people fail to realize that there are many curves and t

    • That's not how hiring works.
      You try to evaluate whether they'd be a good fit for the role you're hiring for, not whether they're as good as you at irrelevant stuff.

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Saturday February 10, 2018 @10:31PM (#56102435) Homepage Journal

    Real innovation involves changing paradigms, and every definition of "best people" is based on the mastery of those people based on existing paradigms. There is only a partial exemption for people who become famous for creating new paradigms to solve important problems, but they were NOT recognized as "best" until AFTERWARDS. More often, they spend most of their lives fighting against the old paradigms. (Any better sources than The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn? It's a classic, but old.)

    Anecdotal evidence, but I spent many years supporting a highly prestigious research lab, and I didn't see much that I would regard as real innovation. Mostly a stream of minor refinements hammered into patents with the support of skilled lawyers and even though most of them should have failed on the obviousness test. I do NOT think it was a cultural thing, though I should acknowledge (and disclaim?) that the lab I supported was located in a country with a reputation for copying and improving rather than innovating...

    Trivial example of a useful innovation that no one has apparently thought of yet: Why isn't there any Android app to turn off the sound for a period of time or on a regular schedule? At least I haven't been able to find one. I already know the answer as regards that research lab: Not likely to generate a patent.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      https://play.google.com/store/... [google.com]

      You are welcome

    • Changing paradigms is easy enough to do if you have the business experience to know better.

  • It sounds like the summary is trying to make a philosophical argument that diversity directly leads to creativity. Any individual, even 'the best', might have tunnel-vision on their purported 'best solution', whereas another person playing devil's advocate may point out other possibilities. A group of people can do a brainstorming session. However, it'd be unfair to harp on tunnel-vision of an individual without also mentioning the potential problem of groupthink, which I'd imagine would be actually more li

  • We used to do science and write reports about it.

    Now we produce least offensive politically correct ethnically sensitive and biologicall empathetic protocols. And we apply these to every sub category. That produces research that has titles like, " why hiring the "best" people produces the least creative results"

  • This article doesn't make any sense.

    How about this advice.

    Hire the best people. Have them drop their egos at the door. Put them in a room to solve a problem and you will get an optimal, well though out, creative solution.

    "The Smartest Person in the Room, Is the Room."

    Hire a diverse, mediocre team. Put them in a room and have them drop their egos at the door. You will get a sub-optimal solution because they struggle.

    Top Performers attract Top Performers. Low Performers attract Low Performers.

    If I need a

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re the medical comment. A helicopter service with the very best crews who can fly day/night without a lack of skill and transport people to the very best local hospital.
      At the hospital the best team is waiting who all passed their nations medical exams and who all work under the very best medical staff in that nation.
      Not that the two very best people are on holiday and "someone" "new" on duty is going to try "their" best that night.

      The best engineer to state something was designed to the correct standar
  • Look for the person who could study. Who had the ability to learn how to study.
    Who can be given something new and learn that new method to a good standard.
    Thats a skill that takes years of quality education.

    Why risk a company, a brand with people who will need "support" due to complex past "issues".
    Skilled staff within a company, brand will then have to take time away from their productive, profitable projects to offer support and guidance to below average workers.
    A should seek out the best educated
  • by digitect ( 217483 ) <digitect@NospAM.dancingpaper.com> on Saturday February 10, 2018 @11:52PM (#56102713)

    The architecture profession has never emphasized grades, realizing that creative design is hardly measurable. There are a lot of successful practitioners with hardly notable academic backgrounds. Who cares if they got good grades if they can produce a great building? It is a stark contrast to the helicopter parent types that force their kids through heavy science and math curriculum, while totally omitting relaxed, creative, and intuition growing explorations that aren't as easily measured.

    I'm glad to hear Amazon eschews MBA types, but I'd like to hear of other business grasping the value of a design approach. We've mistakenly use the word "success" for business that make a lot of money, but I see it defined by the usefulness of solutions, individual growth of their employees, long term (>25 years) contributions to their communities, strong consumer reputation, safety and durability of their products, and a noble reputation across several continents. It's a scam that a phone becomes unusable after three years. Is that how we define a successful company?!

    Fortunately, the US is still hanging on to a culture that encourages scrappy, non-linear entrepreneurship. I'm frustrated by universities that value grades above creativity, and the current trend where our youth have to compete on such shallow metrics. (Against youth raised by helicopter parents from other cultures with no other purpose than to have the highest GPA.) Fortunately, these are short term problems and creativity triumphs in the long view. It always will. And that's the original American way. But I wonder why so many businesses grow out of this skill to their ultimate decline?

    • The architecture profession has never emphasized grades, realizing that creative design is hardly measurable.

      Yeah, because a beautiful building that collapses is no problem. Architecture is about math and materials knowledge. A creative architect is a step above that but *still* knows all the rudiments and friggin' passed all those classes. "Purty" alone doesn't cut it.

      Worst concept ever - "It's the *process*."

    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      All I am hearing is Asian kids got better grades than me so their culture must suck. Grow up

    • by Maxwell ( 13985 )

      .I'm glad to hear Amazon eschews MBA types , but I'd like to hear of other business grasping the value of a design approach. We've mistakenly use the word "success" for business that make a lot of money, but I see it defined by the usefulness of solutions, individual growth of their employees, long term (>25 years) contributions to their communities, strong consumer reputation, safety and durability of their products, and a noble reputation across several continents. It's a scam that a phone becomes unusable after three years. Is that how we define a successful company?!

      Fortunately, the US is still hanging on to a culture that encourages scrappy, non-linear entrepreneurship. I'm frustrated by universities that value grades above creativity, and the current trend where our youth have to compete on such shallow metrics. (Against youth raised by helicopter parents from other cultures with no other purpose than to have the highest GPA.) Fortunately, these are short term problems and creativity triumphs in the long view. It always will. And that's the original American way. But I wonder why so many businesses grow out of this skill to their ultimate decline?

      Jeff Bezos has ten direct reports at Amazon. Seven of them have MBA's. Another has a MS in business. The other two are the lawyer and the press relations guy. The rest of your posting is just as uninformed....

    • We've mistakenly use the word "success" for business that make a lot of money,

      That's not a mistake, that's capitalism. When capital controls the means of production, making lots of money means you have lots of power. That's success.

      I'm happy to measure other kinds of success, but under capitalism, the default kind of success is economic success.

  • Bullshit ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @12:00AM (#56102735)

    ... is not the same as wild honey.

    This piece is a whole lotta words that convey precisely nothing more than horse shit in a garage.

    Some teams work and some don't.

    Mostly, it's character that builds good teams.

    Members can drive other members.

    Like a hit song, team performance is impossible to predict.

  • Well, at least we know where to turn when we want to hire a specialist in clumsy, run-on, long-form mixed metaphors.
  • by rokii ( 1153021 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @12:28AM (#56102817)
    Reminds me of the super chicken ted talk... Very interesting talk about why you don't want a group of "Best" people...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • What a surprise, Scott E Page, a political scientist dealing in diversity.

    The entire summary and article is a wonderful example of purposeful conflation.
  • The best teams use different skill-sets and viewpoints to compliment each other. Dare I use that word? "Synergy".

    However, selecting and coordinating a well-tuned staff like that is not easy. Good managers are rare. They have to know the corporate kiss-up game, but also relate to and understand technical people and their work.

    • Last year at work I got to do a character test which turned to be surprisingly accurate. The interesting thing was that the HR was trying to convince the management to take the character profiles in mind when assembling teams (and all this had nothing to do with modern HR diversity strategies - they were honestly trying to improve performance). It is quite sensible really - in my own case I had already paired with a colleague who in my opinion brought traits that I lack and vice versa - the test caught that

  • by poity ( 465672 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @01:31AM (#56102939)
    So they want people from different fields. I imagine they still want the best of different fields.
    • So they want people from different fields. I imagine they still want the best of different fields.

      You didn't read the second paragraph of the summary.

  • What does this guy want to say? The tl;dr of the article: it's impossible to say who's best, and companies try to hire people for varied positions, because that's good, and yet some people hire based on tests, and that's self evidently not the best.

    Or to put what the writer says another way: I'm not really one of those analytical types who intends to think of a solution, or actually get to the bottom of an issue, but I have a notion and some irrelevant anecdotes, that would make for a splendid article. And

  • I read TFA looking for the point. It seems the author has never actually built anything, and maybe doesn't understand how people outside of universities actually function.

    There is, undoubtedly, a "best" person for a given job, and it is trivially simple to understand that a paper resume or academic ranking is not sufficient to gauge whether that person is the "best" for the position.

    Ok, reading the article again just to see if I'm missing something... this article is simply a complete waste of time full of

  • by AftanGustur ( 7715 ) on Sunday February 11, 2018 @05:13AM (#56103299) Homepage
    " We used to build roads from A to B. Now we construct transportation infrastructure with environmental, social, economic, and political impacts. "

    Even the ancient Romans understood the social, economic, and political impact of the roads they built all over Europe.
    We have always understood those things and as time goes forward so have we. Law professors study social impacts of passing new laws and how you can and can't change society by laws.

    I get the feeling that the author isn't very well educated and then just had a epiphany he thought nobody had thought of before him.

  • I have found that explaining things to a trainee, discussing an inquisitive one who wants to know why things are fine a certain way helps you see possible improvements. Also when I was at university I totally messed up a maths problem, where I should have made a simple substitution I tried attaching the whole integration by parts, and ended up with complexity that was behind my ability. My tutor got very excited about my mistake, completed the "wrong method" and said that it was a proof of some sort of equi
  • This article is full of so many flawed assumptions, it's hard to know where to begin.

    "The multidimensional or layered character of complex problems also undermines the principle of meritocracy"

    This is a steaming pile of dung.

    Believers in a meritocracy might grant that teams ought to be diverse but then argue that meritocratic principles should apply within each category. Thus the team should consist of the ‘best’ mathematicians, the ‘best’ oncologists, and the ‘best’ biostatisticians from within the pool.

    That position suffers from a similar flaw. Even with a knowledge domain, no test or criteria applied to individuals will produce the best team. Each of these domains possesses such depth and breadth, that no test can exist.

    Bullshit. If you're unable to identify the best, then you're a failure at managing your team. Part of being a good leader is knowing who knows what, and who's good at what, and when you need to bring in help. At the top level, no matter how complex the problem, someone has the big picture. They don't need to know the details of the problem, they need to know that they've got the best peopl

  • The best team is composed of people who,when taken in total, have all the requisite specialized knowledge and insight to analyze a problem and develop an optimal solution. It is hard to determine in advance who those people are.
  • No, you don't want diversity. When a company is faced with extremely difficult tasks and insane deadlines, the last thing you want is diversity (and I don't mean diversity in the sense of skin color). You want the strongest, most experienced team you can possibly put together. Every member has to be strong in several areas. Every member has to be willing to work long hours, go in nights and weekends, whatever it takes. To accept less is to plan for failure.

    Been there, done that, got the scars and t-

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson

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