Home > miscellaneous > Flippin’ The Bozo Bit

Flippin’ The Bozo Bit

I first encountered the concept of the “Bozo bit” (BB) while reading a software engineering book penned by Jim McCarthy many years ago. The BB is a tri-state, enumerated attribute that can be used by immature people like BD00, but not you, to judge people. The BB’s 3 mutually exclusive states are defined as:

  • Is-Not-A-Bozo (INAB)
  • May-Be-A-Bozo (MBAB)
  • Is-A-Bozo (IAB)

When working with new colleagues and managers in the workplace, I always initialize the BB to the MBAB state. Over time, after observing a candidate’s behavior and interacting with him/her, I consciously decide to flip the BB to either the IAB or INAB state. In my experience, way more managers fit the criterion for the BB=IAB state than peers.

As the state machine below shows, I’m flexible in that my initial judgment may change. However, once the BB transitions into the IAB state, I rarely decide to subsequently flip it into the INAB state; but I’m delighted when it does miraculously happen.

How about you? Do you use the BB to judge people? Of course not. Being an infallible person of high integrity and impeccable moral character (like the “former” Tiger Woods, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, Mark Hurd, Ken Lay, the executive team at HSBC Bank, General Patreus, yada-yada-yada), you don’t employ such childish tactics. Right?

Fishead’s Bozometer

  1. fishead
    March 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

    you’re WAY too open-minded.

    With my meter, IAB is the default setting. And rather than a half-circle arrangement, it’s more like a vertical scale–think thermometer. The zero line (and all points below) simply indicate the intensity of bozo-ness. Very few people run the scale high enough to reach the single tick-mark INAB position, and just like the changing weather, the drop back into bozo-dom is fast, and precipitous.

    • March 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Did my addition to the blarticle capture the essence of your operational bozometer?

  2. fishead
    March 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    o m g

    (wiping tears from the corners of my eyes)


    perfect. that’s going on the wall next to Calvin & Hobbes http://chutzpah.typepad.com/.a/6a00e55180ed5c883400e553b0eeda8833-800wi

  1. April 22, 2010 at 3:53 am
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