Imagine yourself to be in the mythical Land of Beyond where you need minions to do a dirty job that men with honour would refuse to do. A classic trick in this situation is to pick people despised by the rest of society who are thus dependent on protection and will simply do what is asked for.
The Chinese emperors hit upon this truth when they started to surround themselves with eunuchs, despised by the rest of Chinese society and thus fiercely loyal to their protector, the Emperor. The roman emperors, similarly, made a habit of surrounding themselves with freed slaved who were despised by other Romans, as well as by a dedicated palace guard (the Praetorians) who were the only militia allowed in the vicinity of Rome.
The European colonialists too used this basic ‘dirty dozen’ technique when it came to keeping a large population in check with minimal own presence, particularly in Africa, by elevating some small despised group (ethnic or religious minorities) as the preferred club from whom the senior administrators came. This small favoured group would get personal benefits (riches and influence) but in return they would do whatever the colonizers wanted.
To see the relevance of this for university cuts in the Land of Beyond, you first need to step back a level and imagine yourself to be the Vice Chancellor of a second-rate university that brings in, say, a billion ‘Beyond’ dollars a year out of which some 300 million is money you dont really need to generate that 1 billion. It is ‘potential profit’ if you like. Continue reading
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!
I will miss you terribly.
We empirically test the relationship between hiring discrimination and labour market tightness at the level of the occupation. To this end, we conduct a correspondence test in the youth labour market. In line with theoretical expectations, we find that, compared to natives, candidates with a foreign sounding name are equally often invited to a job interview if they apply for occupations for which vacancies are difficult to fill, but they have to send twice as many applications for occupations for which labour market tightness is low. Our findings are robust against various sensitivity checks.
“Do Employers Discriminate Less If Vacancies Are Difficult to Fill? Evidence from a Field Experiment”, By: Baert, Stijn (Ghent University), Cockx, Bart (Ghent University), Gheyle, Niels (Ghent University), Vandamme, Cora (Ghent University)
I had the good fortune to see this remarkable thing recently. And I thought as I was in the Sistine Chapel something I’ve thought before and have probably pontificated about here at pontification central. (Checking I find this post for instance). Why are there not more facsimiles in the world. Lots of things can be made as well a second time as the first. Now a facsimile Sistine Chapel would not be the same as the real thing, but with some careful attention one ought to be able to produce something that is pretty similar to the real experience of being inside it and looking around. It’s not that large.
Anyway, the real inspiration for pecking this post out is this link which my friend (and occasional Troppodillian) Tony Harris sent me. As a choir sings in the background you can ‘tour’ the glories of the Sistine Chapel’s frescoes, zoom in and around them. There are some advantages over being there in the flesh, namely that you can really look closely at the work. Anyway, load it up and have a look and a listen and gorge yourself on its magnificence. I’ve just been doing it and reading a few of his poems. I’ll put one below the fold for you – translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Continue reading