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Inderjeet Singh

Another unintended side-effect of such a bubble is the possibility of manipulation by such assistants. Essentially, the gatekeeper can deny access to visitors under the guise of Boss's foul mood. Thus the boss continues to suffer a bad reputation and misses important information unintentionally.

Heather Mitchell

nraynoud makes a great point -- it's often not just the gatekeepers, or even the gatekeepers plus the boss that create and protect these fool's paradises. Other members of the organization may work to perpetuate this system because they've established a grey power niche and are loathe to give it up. For some this motivation may be conscious; for most I suspect it is unconscious. We all tend to choose the preservation of our own power and the status quo over change, even if that change might be better in the long run.

Charles H. Green

Great example of how "good intentions" can destroy trust in organizations.

We often think that confrontation is a bad thing, and that to keep peach in the family builds trust, harmony, et al.

The truth is, trust feeds on truth-telling and contact with reality. If someone's keeping the bad news away, someone's keeping truth away--even if the truth is simply that someone's angry.

The enemy of trust is not anger, or confrontation, or unpleasantness: it's disengagement.

I love the nurses' example: a desire to avoid confronting reality leads to death. Pretty straight-up, that one. Jeff's Jack Nicholson line was more truthful than the movie's positioning of it. Not only can we not handle it, our inability to do so causes great harm.

Ian Welsh

I wonder what a frank report about Bush's information handling would look like?


Valeria Maltoni

Alas, this is pervasive even with entire management teams... It makes me think of that famous Jack Nicholson line: "You wanna know the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

jeff angus

RE: it also creates a protective bubble around the boss. Sparing underlings from the full force of Ornstein’s wrath likely reduces their motivation to leave the company, press him to change, press for his firing, or for Ornstein himself to realize that he needs to change.

This, I think is the core of the problem, long-term. The only way free enterprise's magick can work is if the Unseen Hand slaps s.o.b.'s like this silly. Organizations run by men and women like this need to purge their miscreants or lose their good people and go under. The gatekeeping, quite common in my experience only handcuffs the Unseen Hand and makes the organization...the whle system, inefficient.


There is no Soviet Union anymore, but everybody remember those great victories and defeats. We trusted in idea and we made our history through great losses...

Wally Bock

Absolutely agree on both too-effective gatekeepers and on "On a Clear Day ..." But one thing we always tell folks in my leadership classes is that it is THEIR responsibility to make sure they get both honest feedback and accurate information.


I've read in a public CIA report that Saddam Hussein "suffered" this very problem about everyday business. He didn't knew anything relevant and true about his country. He was not obeyed his dumb orders about things that didn't even exist. Then, he was presented false reports about the good his orders had done.

I think this example shows well the extreme of this problem. This guy *knew*, (not simply he "believed"), his army was stronger than the US, even without any hi-technology war tools.

On an other note, this behavior tends to move the power off the hands of the leader, filtering becomes a power by itself. Moreover, the person having access to the hidden information can respond to it, having an area of Grey power in his boss' blind corner.

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