Hubris 101

Colabria One MegaPhone A major unintended consequence of the Internet is that everyone has the equivalent of a megaphone. Of course the benefits of an open Internet and free speech are incalculable. Still, many feel it also provides license to spout off in an unrestrained and irresponsible manner. We call it Hubris 101. Sadly, people that traffic in this pap have now discovered key Colabria leadership themes of networks and complexity.

Unfortunately is all too easy to find counterfeit leadership and hubristic management thinking.  Typically management dilettantes simply hook ‘network’ or ‘connected’ as a prefix to all their lofty terms. Another dead giveaway is the pejorative use of complex or complexity. To be safe it’s critical to simply avoid the pervasive and pernicious hubris. Beware of ‘Management Woo.’

The best way to avoid this harmful pablum from phonies is to just look for common examples of their insipid claims in social media. We put together some of them below from literally just the last 24-hour period. It is advised to simply ignore this nonsense. Do not try and correct or advise these charlatans, you will get nowhere.

With regard to networks, the first example concerns a recently shared PowerPoint. The vague theme was something about building a ‘connected and networked organization.’ It was offered by some self-absorbed management authority. Often these sham artists claim expertise on ‘the future of work.’ 

Even the premise of ‘connected and networked organization’ a is a farce. All organizations (organisms) are composed of mutually interdependent, connected parts. That’s what makes them organizations. Organizations are networks by definition. It’s been the same since the beginning of time, today and in the future.

In addition, networks are never ‘built’; networks are only revealed and served.


The same PPT claimed proudly to be about ‘change management.’ Yes, the same reviled, obsolete, failed approach and consultant-speak from the 1980s. Honestly.

The tired and irresponsible manifesto continued with these choice platitudes:

‘Constant change is here.’

‘The only constant is change.’

’20th Century skills don’t work in the 21st.’

(We swear we are not making this up. They are actual quotes.)

These circa 1980 management bromides are counterproductive and offensive.

Still, there was more. The PPT warned against “function-based work.” Wow. Function-based work was retired in the 1980s by Porter’s value chains. It’s been obsolete for 30 years. It is a ridiculous example.   

It went on and on and on for 40 pages of pure hubris. Beware. This nonsense is everywhere. It’s important to avoid bogus ‘insight’ from self-described experts.

Colabria DNA

Concerning complexity, complexity science and complex adaptive systems, the remarks below were made by a ‘respected’ information technology (IT) authority. 

Again, they are actual, recent and written statements by a self-appointed IT complexity authority. (Note the pejorative use of complex and complexity. It’s a dead giveaway that they don’t have a clue.)

· “Simplicity is the absence of complexity.”

· “I have had many discussions over the years about complexity, so I know we will have many useful thoughts.”

· “I agree that complexity is often intentionally added by those who stand to gain.”

· “It sounds like you are right at the crossroads where complexity goes in one direction and simplicity in another.”

· “Small projects are simpler by definition!”

· “I like your motto: If I can’t understand it, it is too complex.”

· “To me, my car is complicated. To my mechanic, it is not complicated. “

These inane remarks left us all speechless. Beware.

They were only topped by quite literally the stupidest ‘Group Guidelines’ for comments we have ever, ever seen, to wit:

The Guidelines Section began with this draconian declaration:

Examples of comments that will be deleted:

· (If) You have a complete lack of understanding.

· Every major authority disagrees with you.

· (If) You completely misunderstand the point I was making.

· If you would only read me more carefully, you would understand.

· This is not rocket science. I don’t know why you can’t get this.

· It’s a shame you won’t study and learn.

These are all exact quotations of the guidelines for interactions in this particular complexity group. 

The arrogance of this moderation is beyond belief. It is clear the ‘complexity group’ moderator has no understanding of complexity or principles of online moderation. These sorts of narcissistic echo-chambers are very common. Again, beware.

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