Posts Tagged ‘Goldman Sachs’

At The Top Of The List

December 19, 2013 2 comments

Because of the widespread wreckage caused by the 2008 financial meltdown and the fact that not one single gov-handout-taking banker fat cat is behind bars, I harbor a deep disdain for financial institutions. Since the impeccably infallible Goldman Sux is high on my turd list, I quickly snatched up Steven Mandis’s “What Happened to Goldman Sachs: An Insider’s Story of Organizational Drift and Its Unintended Consequences” to harden my mental model of the company. One of my favorite passages in the book is:

Before this increased emphasis on quantification and accountability, people were willing to make more time for each other and help think through issues. Bankers didn’t worry about filling out time sheets or taking credit. They worried instead more about giving clients better advice. – Steven Mandis

So, if your org’s so-called leadership starts cranking up the volume on “metrics!“, “accountability!“, and/or “performance management!” in textbook MBA fashion, then beware of what the future holds. It simply broadcasts their knee-jerk cluelessness and utter lack of ideas on how to really improve your borg.

turd list

The Same Old Wine

September 3, 2013 2 comments

Goldman McKinsey

Investment is to Goldman Sachs as management is to McKinsey & Co. These two prestigious institutions can do no wrong in the eyes of the rich and powerful. Elite investors and executives bow down and pay homage to Goldman McKinsey like indoctrinated North Koreans do to Kimbo Jongo Numero Uno.

As the following snippet from Art Kleiner’s “Who Really Matters” illustrates, McKinsey & Co, being chock full of MBAs from the most expensive and exclusionary business schools in the USA, is all about top-down management control systems:

…says McKinsey partner Richard Foster, author of Creative Destruction. If you ask companies how many control systems they have, they don’t know. If you ask them how much they’re spending on control, they say, ‘We don’t add it up like that.’ If you ask them to rank their control systems from most to least cost-effective, then cut out the twenty percent at the bottom, they can’t.” (And this from a partner at McKinsey, the firm whose advice has launched a thousand measurement and control systems.)

A dear reader recently clued BD00 into this papal release from a trio of McKinsey principals: “Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of application development”. BD00 doesn’t know fer sure (when does he ever?), but he’ll speculate (when does he never?) that none of the authors has ever been within binoculars distance of a software development project.

Kim Jong Un Approval

Yet, they laughingly introduce a…

..viable means of measuring the output of application-development projects.

Their highly recommended application development control system is based on, drum roll please…. “Use Cases” (UC) and “Use Case Points” (UCP).

Knowing that their elite, money-hoarding, efficiency-obsessed, readers most probably have no freakin’ idea what a UC is, they painstakingly spend two paragraphs explaining the twenty year old concept (easily looked up on the web); concluding that…

..both business leaders and application developers find UCs easy to understand.

Well, yeah. Done “right“, UCs can be a boon to development – just like doing “agile” right. But how often have you ever seen these formal atrocities ever done right? Oh, I forgot. All that’s needed is “training” in how to write high quality UCs. Bingo, problem solved – except that training costs money.

Next up, the authors introduce their crown jewel output measurement metric, the “UCP“:

UCP calculations represent a count of the number of transactions performed by an application and the number of actors that interact with the application in question. UCPs, because they are simple to calculate, can also be easily rolled out across an organization.

So, how is an easily rolled out UCP substantively different than the other well known metric: the “Function Point” (FP)?

Another approach that’s often talked about for measuring output is Function Points. I have a little more sympathy for them, but am still unconvinced. This hasn’t been helped by stories I’ve heard of that talk about a single system getting counts that varied by a factor of three from different function point counters using the same system. – Martin Fowler

I guess that UCPs are superior to FPs because it is implied that given X human UCP calculators, they’ll all tally the same result. Uh, OK.

Not content to simply define and describe how to employ the winning UC + UCP metrics pair to increase productivity, the McKinseyians go on to provide one source of confirmation that their earth-shattering, dual-metric, control system works. Via an impressive looking chart with 12 project data points from that one single source (perhaps a good ole boy McKinsey alum?), they confidently proclaim:

Analysis therefore supports the conclusion that UCPs’ have predictive power.

Ooh, the words “analysis” and “predictive” and “power” all in one sentence. Simply brilliant; spoken directly in the language that their elite target audience drools over.

The article gets even more laughable (cry-able?) as the authors go on to describe the linear, step-by-step “transformation” process required to put the winning UC + UCP system in place and how to overcome the resistance “from below” that will inevitably arise from such a large-scale change effort. Easy as pie, no problemo. Just follow their instructions and call them for a $$$$$$ consultation when obstacles emerge.

So, can someone tell BD00 how the McKinsey UC + UCP dynamic duo is any different than the “shall” + Function Point duo? Does it sound like the same old wine in a less old bottle to you too?

Same Wine

Will Work For….

April 3, 2012 2 comments

Perhaps disturbingly, I’ve always been curious about the factors and causes of individual and (especially) group psychopathy. Thus, this Ronald Schouten piece, “Psychopaths on Wall Street” (which is a PR pitch for his forthcoming book “Almost a Psychopath“), caught my attention. Specifically, Mr. Schouten’s “good news” paragraph triggered a sinister, internal BD00 “LOL!“.

But there is good news. First of all, it is possible to screen out “almost” and “full-blown” psychopaths during the hiring process and after. Some of the key indicators are:

Glibness and superficial charm (BD00?)
Lack of empathy (BD00?)
Consistent decisions in their self interest, even where it is ethically questionable (BD00?)
Chronic, sometimes transparent lies, even with regard to minor things (BD00?)
Lack of remorse (BD00?)
Failure to take responsibility for their actions, and instead blaming others (BD00?)
Shallow emotions (BD00?)
Ignoring responsibilities (BD00?)
Persistent focus on gratifying their own needs at the expense of others (BD00?)
Conning and manipulative behavior (BD00?)

How can one possibly confirm or disconfirm these traits during a job interview – especially since psychopaths are brilliant at masking their agendas? But wait! On second glance, the list looks like it could serve as a bona fide set of prerequisites for executive team membership at Enron and Goldman Sux type borgs, no?


Reckless Meritocracies

November 26, 2011 1 comment

Being a staunch advocate of democratic meritocracy, when I stumbled across the title of this potentially UCB-loosening op-ed by Ross Douthat; “Our Reckless Meritocracy, I dove right in. I was intrigued by the use of the word “reckless” in the title.

Ross commences his opinion piece by telling the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Jon Corzine:

  • Boy grows up in rural Illinois
  • Boy’s grandfather was a farmer who lost everything in the great depression
  • Boy graduates from Illinois state university
  • Boy goes into Marine Corps
  • Boy gets MBA
  • Boy works for regional bank
  • Boy works for Goldman Sachs
  • Boy becomes Goldman Sachs CEO
  • Boy serves in US senate
  • Boy serves as governer of NJ
  • Boy returns to Wall St. as CEO of MF Global
  • MF Global files for bankruptcy after “mislaying” $600M
  • Boy resigns in disgrace (but with plenty of dough in the bank)

Ross uses this lead-in to postulate that the US has “created what seems like the most capable, hardworking, high-I.Q. elite in all of human history – and we’ve watched this same elite lead us off a cliff“.

Ross then theorizes on how catastrophies are perpetrated by the rich and powerful in reckless meritocracies, hereditary aristocracies, and one-party states:

  • Hereditary aristocracies: debacles caused by stupidity and pigheadedness
  • One Party States: debacles caused by ideological mania
  • Reckless Meritocracies: debacles caused  by hubris

Relative to the other two forms of governance, at least scores of little people aren’t physically massacred in reckless meritocracies. They’re simply thrust into poverty. The real genius of reckless meritocracy is that when a meritocrat falls, he/she isn’t beheaded. At worst, he/she goes to jail. At best, he/she gets away with a huge bag of loot.

So, what’s a democratically run institution to do? Mr. Douthat rightly states that “it will do America no good to replace the arrogant with the ignorant, the overconfident with the incompetent“. (Didn’t you see the movie “Idiocracy“?)

We need intelligent leaders with a sense of their own limits, experienced people whose lives have taught them caution. We still need the best and brightest, but we need them to have somehow learned humility along the way. – Ross Douthat

If you made it thus far into this post, you may be wondering why BD00 is wasting your time by simply parroting Ross Douthat in yet another meta-blog post? It’s because BD00 wanted to display his fledgling UML skill again:

But wait!  It may ironically be because of BD00’s own personal lack of humility and the fact that BD00 gets off on reading funny spammer comments like these:

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