Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pareto revisited - the 80/20 rule and is Google a commu-capitalist organization?

Be smarter at work, slack off - Mar. 17, 2006: "Indeed, 'the notion that busyness is the essence of business can only do us long-term harm,' writes consultant Tom DeMarco in a book called Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency."

If you do the things you enjoy, ignore the things that don't mean a whole lot to you or upset you, and take lots of 'slack-time', you end up in Office Space bliss, perhaps with a promotion if you do it right.

The key to this article's commentary is bigger thinking vs. task-oriented thinking. Instead of the thought "I need to do the laundry", how about "I need to figure out a way to make enough money so that somebody sends me 8 Armani undershirts a day whenever I am working."

"Actor John Travolta has demanded eight new Armani T-shirts a day to appear in his new movie -- because he refuses to wear the same one twice. Travolta objects to washing clothes for religious reasons, so he had it written into his contract for new film 'Basic' that he be supplied with the $350 black tops. Travolta is a devoted member of The Church Of Scientology, which frowns on the chemicals used in dry cleaning. But movie bosses, desperate to sign Travolta up as leading man for the film about army basic training, had little choice but agree to the $2,800-a-day demand. According to Britain's The Sun newspaper, a source close to the production says, 'John wasn't happy wearing just any old shirts - he wanted to look right. He likes the designer Armani shirts and said he wanted to wear those. But the producers were amazed when he said he wanted eight a day.' The source adds, 'They don't come cheap and it adds up to quite a large sum per week. But John told them he wanted it included in his contract before he accepted the part in the movie.'"

Well, laundry is bad for the environment. Just take a look at PHO, a water ETF I was going to buy when it came out in December.

Lots of people are thinking the same thing - we're a little short on water, and it's going to take 10 million years for that new ocean to form in Africa.

Maybe there's a way to use sand to clean clothes. Frugal living must have something on that...

The average interruption is supposed to cost each worker 3 hours in lost trains of thought. The average worker is interrupted every 15 minutes.

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., is a famously laid-back place, replete with lap pools, massage rooms, pool tables, free haute cuisine, and loads of other stress-reducing amenities like onsite dry cleaners and hair stylists.

"We want to take as much hurry and worry out of people's lives as we can, because a relaxed state of mind unleashes creativity," says Stacy Sullivan, the company's HR director. "And everybody's on flextime here, so we don't reward face time or working super-long hours. We just measure results."

Well, working at Google is one way to get out of laundry, though they do have a washer-dryer in the lounge. Maybe working at Google is a lot like a hybrid of communism's ideals with capitalism's cash and stock options. You're focusing on your stock price while you and the collective good live and work in the same environment. Hours and what you do are not important, as long as you are doing good for the collective. Everyone has access to the wave pool, the masseuse, and fine cuisine, and shares these burdens together within the duality of Google's walls.

In the end, what else matters? Of course, not every workplace can match Google's. But plenty of companies might do a lot worse than to emulate the thinking behind it.

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