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March 14, 2006

Recognize the Warning Signs of Bozos

Sometimes the best thing to do is just get out of the way. Whether it's a runaway bus, a Google-esque stock slump or a blogger on a mission, there are times when we should all just stand back, watch and learn.

A couple of weeks ago, the original Mac evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, posted this hilarious blog item: “How to Prevent a Bozo Explosion.” It begins:

It's depressing to watch a mean, lean, fighting machine of a company deteriorate into mediocracy [mediocrity + bureaucracy = mediocracy]. In Silicon Valley, we call this process the “bozo explosion.”

I'm not going to steal his thunder, or Robert Scoble's Scobleizer blog post the same day, which discusses the issue from the perspective of someone at Microsoft. Go read them both, and be sure to check the comments at the end, which include anecdotes galore.

The thing is, Kawasaki's observations are so true they hurt. I've been through two startups that ultimately failed, in no small part due to a bozo explosion. And while I don't consider myself among the leading bozos in either case, I am not blameless and will not cast stones at others.

But how does this happen? Why do companies -- especially young, brash, fast-growing ones -- let it happen? And most of all, why can’t managers and employees stop themselves from becoming bozos or engaging in bozo-like behavior? After all, it isn’t the company that’s at fault but the people who work there. Mea culpa.

How many of Kawasaki’s and Scoble’s bozo identifiers do you see at your employer?

And while you’re thinking about it, here are a few ideas that might help avoid the problem in the first place:

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Posted by Rebecca on March 14, 2006 at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


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