Management Hooey

This is pretty good.

There's a reason your company doesn't give inkblot tests to job applicants—though 50 years ago a great many companies on the first FORTUNE 500 did so, and with enthusiasm. It's the same reason your company isn't trying to convince investors that millions of people merely looking at its website creates $1 billion of new shareholder value, though plenty of companies were attempting just that in the late '90s. The common reason: They were stupid ideas.

You might suppose, if you'd never been anywhere near an actual business, that managers aren't susceptible to idiotic fads. Surely businesspeople are too disciplined, too unwavering in the eternal pursuit of shareholder value. But obviously that's nonsense. Managers are mere humans, and what's most eternal in a big company is the incredible difficulty of achieving consistent profit and growth. When a plausible idea for achieving them shows up, you can't blame managers for swarming all over it. T-groups? Conglomeration? Quality circles? Hey, what if it works, and my competitors use it—and I don't? That's how fads happen.

Believe it or not, rational decision making is just as absent in the business world as it is everywhere else.

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