Differentiation: There’s no right way of doing bad things

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Reylito A.H. Elbo

Reylito A.H. Elbo

WHAT would be the last words of a captured missionary to a group of cannibals? Answer: “At least you get a taste of religion.” If this sounds like positive thinking, then you should join a so-called nonprofit organization, which means interacting with alleged volunteers who offer their services to help promote an advocacy.

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If you are in human resources, you join fellow management practitioners by being a passive member, an active committee member, if not part of a board directorate of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), the biggest and pioneering organization of like-minded professionals that organized its 50th national convention last week.

There are many associations like PMAP that cater to different management advocacies to promote their best practices, among other good things like what they have in marketing, finance, quality, operations management, and many more. After all, no man is an island, except that many of us live in peninsulas that make us suspect for reasons why people join professional organizations.

Are they serious enough to do unselfish volunteer work? Or are they here to sell their products or services to members of the association? That’s why we have to be careful on the quality and quantity of the efforts being dished out by these alleged volunteers, so that we can unmask their real intentions.

I’m not saying that PMAP has a lot of these people. I’m only using it as example to tell you my experience with another association, which I cannot name here at the moment because I’m part of it. Therefore, you’ve to join an association to find out for yourself how these bogus volunteers operate. Most of the time, they have a blind definition of what “conflict of interest” is all about, if not they simply keep it under the rug, in the hope that no one notices it.

Sure, you may not be able to notice if you’re also enjoying the fruits of their labor. That’s why you’ve to do a lot of differentiation strategies to find out: One, mathematical differentiation as the process of defining a derivative. Two, marketing differentiation as portraying a certain product different from others. And three, igneous differentiation in geology where magmas undergo chemical change during a melting process, cooling, or eruption.

In psychology, you’ve a variant of differentiation called “inductive reasoning.” It is used to measure a person’s aptitude or logic to identify a pattern in a large amount of data. For example, when you were a young job applicant, you may have encountered a pre-employment IQ test like this: Find the set of numbers that doesn’t belong to the group: A) 4568; B) 0123; C) 7964; D) 3852.

The correct answer is “B” as it is the only set with four numbers in correct sequence.

If you cannot find the obvious answer, then you’re a bozo—a favorite tag by Steve Jobs for “someone who thinks they are much smarter and capable than they actually are. They constantly overestimate their abilities and underestimate the risks and threats around them. They typically don’t keep an open mind. They look instead for data that confirms a previously held bias. They also don’t handle details well.

“They expect other people to clean up their messes when they happen, and so don’t feel the need to obsess over the little things. Because they don’t have a keen sense for the competitive market in which they operate, they typically don’t have good judgment in key strategic decisions or when hiring top talent. Instead of hiring the smartest folks around them, bozos prefer to hire people who blow smoke, telling them how great they are, or for some non-obvious business reason such as sharing the same college or frat,” according to Forbes contributor Eric Jackson in his January 31, 2012 article Why Every Company Needs a “No Bozos” Policy.

To find out more, Google the words “Steve Jobs” and “bozo” combined and you’ll get at least 307,000 entries in 0.17 seconds. I gave several bozo quizzes to people whom I interact regularly. The results were surprising. Despite the fact they were holding top executive corporate positions; they appear and think like they don’t know what’s happening around them.

They don’t practice strategic thinking by rejecting a chief executive officer of an important partner organization, simply because he’s not an excellent speaker. And worse, they make simple things complicated by sweating around the bush writing articles for a publication when they can simply delegate the task to the concerned, who is the best person to say something about himself. The list goes on and on.

Now why can’t other people differentiate a bozo from all others? I can hazard a guess. We are a tolerant society. Many of us want to play politics. And many of us don’t care. We don’t want to rock the boat, never mind if they end up commiserating with, if not being governed by inferiors.

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to elbonomics@gmail.com or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.

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