United Airlines should learn that you can’t create consistency with a lottery

United Airlines attempted to replace its employee bonuses with a lottery. This is a “motivational” idea so stupid that, after the employee backlash, the company had to “press pause” on it. Ironically, the plan was an attempt to encourage employees to be more consistently caring — but a plan like that shouldn’t start with random … Continued

KFC answers the question: when are you allowed to be funny in a crisis?

KFC ran out of chicken in the UK. They had to close their restaurants, and then explain themselves. They decided to poke fun at themselves . . . which is great, so long as nobody gets hurt. KFC suffered a distribution problem, which meant, basically, no chicken. Their first decision — to close the restaurants … Continued

Winners of the 2016 Bullshitty Awards

2016 was a shitty year for most of us . . . but a great year for bullshit. Thanks to your votes, I can now announce the winners of the 2016 Bullshitty Awards. Here’s the live video. Winners listed below. Most disingenuous apology Nominees Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences … Continued

Chipotle’s weasel words are sickening

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s CEO Steve Ells is “deeply sorry” after 141 of his customers in Boston College contracted Norovirus. This comes in the wake of virus outbreaks in nine other states over the past year. The restaurant chain has deployed a team of copywriters to solve the problem. Their efforts on the company’s website gave me a stomachache. … Continued

The whole truth about The New York Times – Amazon feud

Two months after The New York Times‘ devastating takedown of Amazon’s culture, Amazon fired back. Where’s the whole truth here? There is none. Because by definition, stories always leave out more than they include. As briefly as possible, here’s what happened. On August 15, the Times wrote about Amazon’s “bruising workplace.” Jeff Bezos emailed his employees a non-denial … Continued

When the “meaning ratio” drops to zero, you’ve got a problem

Every word you write should be meaningful. We can measure this as the “meaning ratio,” which should approach 100%. Conversely, when the meaning ratio nears zero, you’ve got froth, not content, which is an accurate characterization of the job description I analyze today. The brilliant Edward Tufte analyzes graphics with the “data-ink ratio”: the proportion of ink in … Continued

The parable of the troublesome product manager

Once there was a product manager named Joan who worked at an Italian foods company called Patitucci’s Delights. Joan loved Italian food, and she loved helping her company sell it and make a profit. She was in charge of prepared dinner products, working alongside two other product managers for pasta and sauces. Joan had a … Continued