Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rank and Yank, Chickens and Enron

I've never been a big fan of GE Jack Welch inspired "rank and yank" forced ranking and termination of the bottom x percent.

This article emailed to me today (thanks HRDan!) looks at why, from an evolutionary standpoint, managed survival of the fittest HR policies that focus on the individual are doomed to failure.

It uses for examples a chicken experiment that ended up unwittingly selecting for mean chickens and Enron.
So Enron was applying selection at the individual level according to metrics like individual trading performance to a group system whose performance was, like the henhouses, an emergent property of group dynamics as well as a result of individual fitness. The result was more or less the same. Instead of increasing overall productivity, they got mean chickens and actual productivity declined. They were selecting for traits like aggressiveness, sociopathic tendencies, and dishonesty.


Blogger Robert Edward Cenek said...

Forced ranking a la GE and Enron assumes that talent in an organization resembles a normal distribution. There are several inherent problems in using this assumption, the most significant being that most organizations do not randomly select their employees.

See my post on the topic at www.cenekreport.com

5:33 PM, June 29, 2006  

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