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What has Jumped the Shark at Work?

The phrase “jump the shark” refers to an idea that is past it’s prime and entered into the absurd. The phrase comes from a scene in the TV show “Happy Days” when Fonzie, donned in a leather jacket, goes water skiing and jumps over a shark.

What’s jumped the shark in the corporate world?

Fear-based management. Thank you Millennials for setting the tone that we don’t need to put up with this crap anymore. And thanks to Silicon Valley for promoting the idea that we should be kind to our employees. Fear is out. Trust is in.

Multitasking. It wasn’t too long ago that “ability to multitask” was found on most job postings. Science found that multitasking was killing productivity. And finally businesses realized that they should stop valuing multitasking. It jumped the shark when we started to see people with their cell phone on one ear and their desk phone on the other.

Stack ranking humans. I saw a client try to create “quality indexes” for every job and stack rank the thousands of people. Did anyone think this was a good idea? Every man/woman for him/herself! I can’t imagine anything worse for collaboration. Measuring is great to spot trends and help individuals, but once you use it for punishment and reward you are sunk.

Measuring things to death. When data became easy to get and cheap, companies salivated about the possibilities. “We can know everything about our customers! We can know everything about our employees!” They got a few new insights and thought they were in heaven. And then they realized that the insights weren’t that profound and instead of being led by the wisdom of the crowds, they were getting jerked around by the whims of the crowds. They lost their True North and became a tool for public opinion.

Automating human interaction. There’s a ton of automation that can make our lives easier, don’t get me wrong. But things like automated customer service have got to go. How many people press “0” when they get to an automated phone system? No one wants to navigate through this crap, just get a person. Human interaction is the new innovation.

Gender Sameness. Women have been trained to be like men in order to succeed in business. Remember the “lady ties” of the 1980s? Those days are over. Workplaces are now seeing the benefits of having men and women both play to their strengths.

What jumped the shark in your organization? Let us know!

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