They could but they won’t

They could but they won’t

On October 28th, Ted Bauer published:

Well yes. They could but they won’t. 😆

In this article, he mentions Jonah Lehrer’s 2012 article from The New Yorker: Groupthink
The brainstorming myth. (

“Although the findings did nothing to hurt brainstorming’s popularity, numerous follow-up studies have come to the same conclusion. Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, has summarized the science: ‘Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.'”
-from The New Yorker

But ya know, come on back to the office because we need those in-person brainstorming sessions to innovate– ha ha, I mean arrive at a guided conclusion that the CEO wanted anyway.

I’ve written many times before about the introvert hell / groupthink / corporate cult environments that come from herding everyone into a room and allowing the loudest (often male) extrovert to win the day. No thanks.

“All these elements of work — quiet, walking, some autonomous control over your day vs. being pulled in different directions from your desk — are much more possible at home (or at a co-working) than in an office.

Back in 2012, as we wrote about in another HBR piece, we collected data from 6,000 employees in concert with a large healthcare company. We asked about where people did their best thinking. Only 10 percent said it happened at work. So why exactly are we in a hurry to force people back?”

🙋🏻‍♀️ raises hand violently

Umm, because it has nada to do with productivity or brainstorming or any other hot air nonsense.


“So why do we keep having these back-and-forth discussions?
The short answer is that work is about control, especially to mid- to high-ranking managers, and that’s why there’s been a push back into offices of late. The air cover is ‘collaboration’ or ‘needing impromptu ideas to pop up’ and while those have some validity, I can also tell you I’ve worked in offices for a chunk of 20+ years now, and I’ve seen true collaboration happen maybe six times, and an impromptu idea happen maybe once across decades. Those are not normative things. A lot of people barely want to speak to their co-workers, no lie.”
-from Ted Bauer

I would say that’s not the short answer – that IS the answer. I personally have never even once witnessed a Eureka! moment in an office. Not a single time. You see them in stock photos and propaganda videos quite often but IRL? 😂

“I’ve told this story in other blogs, but I used to work with a girl named Savannah who literally sat on Instagram all day, 8:30am to 5:30pm, but she sat 10 feet from her bosses. Her bosses, eventually, had to know that she does nothing all day. There was no output, and she’s constantly on her phone giggling. But it comforted the bosses that she was 10 feet away, even though they were getting no output whatsoever. You could have the most productive person in human history 350 miles away checking in on Zoom, but that wouldn’t be the point. The point isn’t the productivity. The point is the control.” -from Ted Bauer

I’m reminded of Bill Hicks: “It’s all about money, not freedom. Nothing to do with freedom. If you think you’re free, try going somewhere without money.”

In this case – it has nothing to do with productivity. It has everything to do with control and the feudal lords feeling comforted by the fact that the pleb was sitting right there at arm’s reach. What a good, obedient person to sit butt-in-seat in the cube farm for our pleasure!

“One of the biggest challenges in this discussion is that managers often cannot define what ‘productivity’ means
The dirtiest little secret about work is that in most organizations, the only quantifiable metrics come from (a) sales and (b) operations, and the only metric anyone really looks at is stuff related to cost, spend, margins, and profit (i.e. ‘the financials’). Over time, organizations have tried to ‘data-ify’ other departments, like HR and stuff — or the glorious ‘data-driven marketing’ that never is driven by anything except the gut feel of the person with the highest salary — and broadly it hasn’t worked. Why? Lots of reasons, many of them detailed here. ‘Data-driven’ is a thing we say, but it’s not who we are.” -from Ted Bauer

This made me think of a guy on LinkedIn who wrote an œuvre about all WFH productivity being “self-reported” and it must therefore be false. I laughed out loud, truly, and thought, “Riiiight, sure. So corporate-sponsored bullsh*t surveys saying RTO is better are somehow trustworthy? Who are you shilling for, bud?”


If these managers can’t even come to a reasonable definition of what productivity is, we REALLY have to examine the importance of control and obedience in these RTO decisions.

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