Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Bullshit Factor .... book review

The Bullshit Factor – The Truth About Corporate Disguises, Lies & Denial by James Bellini and Kati St. Clair, 2006, Artesian Publishing LLP ( . Almost without fail, every morning when I open my local news paper, I find example articles that demonstrate amply the operation of ‘The Bullshit Factor’ in organizations ranging from industry, government, nongovernmental organizations or even educational institutions. It is therefore difficult to understand why it is so difficult to do justice to this book in a review – perhaps it is yet another example of how uncomfortable most of us feel when confronted by truth. Back in 1974 I read Graham Cleverley’s book entitled Managers and Magic. The only thing wrong with that book is that it should have been titled ‘Managers and Bullshit’ as it describes management as a bunch of tribal rituals. Similarly the only thing wrong with ‘The Bullshit Factor – The Truth About Corporate Disguises, Lies and Denial’ is that ‘Corporate’ should be replaced with ‘Organizational’ . What sets these two books apart from other books on management is that they refuse to obey the concept of mokita which apparently is a New Guinean word meaning “the truth everyone knows but no one speaks” (see Culbert, Samuel A. 2008, Beyond Bullsh*t – Straight-Talk at Work, Stanford U. Press, Stanford, Ca. page 126). While most books of this genre describe management and leadership as positive qualities, in ‘The Bullshit Factor’ Bellini and St. Clair focus on the dark side (see Conger, Jay A. The dark Side of Leadership). “Sometimes the dark side of leadership eclipses the bright side – to the detriment of both the leader and the organization.” Above all, this book is a wake-up call to most readers that we get old so soon and smart too late – while most courses and publications on leadership use the word without a qualifier as if leadership is a synonym for ‘godliness’, Bellini and St. Clair use many actual case studies to focus on the dark side of leadership and leadership greed. The authors stress that ‘The Bullshit Factor’ is not a theory of management but a means of understanding the risks associated with a dysfunctional corporate psyche.” Perhaps the book can best be summarized by the observation that when an organization becomes preoccupied and believes its own bullshit that organization becomes unfit for survival. So if you have ever, and who has not, worked for an organization that is dysfunctional and resembles a rat-runner colony, you owe it to yourself to read or better yet buy a copy of this truly fascinating book which goes a long way of describing the psychopathic behavior of so many organizations and explains why so many organizations fly high for relatively short periods of time and then crash as they start to believe their own organizational bullshit! About the author: Before his retirement from Health Canada, G.W. (Bill) Riedel, PhD., MCIC, was Chief, Program Development and Evaluation Division, in Health Canada’s Field Operations Directorate. Now his interests are focused on blogging, writing and presenting on his favorite topics: The academics of bullshit, food (un)safety and phage therapy. In 2009 he combined two of these interests at a MENSA meeting presentation entitled: Phage Therapy and Bullshit: Choosing to let patients with superbug infections die rather than phage them - getting beyond the bullshit! DISCLAIMER: This information was produced as a public good. It is the opinion of the author based on extensive experience and study of published literature and is considered a valid interpretation of that literature; however, readers are encouraged to study the references and additional literature to form their own opinion. This information may be referenced, used or quoted with or without giving credit to the author. It may be distributed, copied or stored by any means. Readers and users are responsible for any outcomes from any use of this information.