Sign in or Register

Already a member?

Sign in

Or sign in with your account on:

Not a member yet?


Financial Myths: Work Smarter Not Harder — Part III

By  +Follow July 1, 2014 7:21AM
Tickers Mentioned:

value of business consultants, working harder versus working smarter, examples of working smarter, bad business advice

Much like Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegone Days, everyone wants to be above average, so, by definition, people work smarter if not harder. The first installment showed that this myth appeals to many but it fails to yield unvarying success.

Jumbo Shrimp, Anyone? 

Part II looked at the curious tendency toward oxymorons, an ironic word for the Work Smarter devotees. The platform concept in manufacturing generates its own incongruity – small car extravagance; fuel efficient large car feel, affordable luxury. Curiously, this apparent lack of logic may open the door to market hegemony as emerging markets cut into the apple of success.

The myth deserves a more probing exploration of the “Work Smarter” notion. Those who work smarter spur the product and business methods sovereignty of the United States. Iconic brands such as Coca Cola (KO) , Microsoft (MSFT) , Apple (AAPL) , McDonald’s (MCD) and Phillip Morris (PM) circle the globe. Business practice leadership shows itself in the growth of Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programs worldwide, including the former Soviet Union. Students see American business practices as the most practical and successful.

Despite a long record of such breakout successes, popular wisdom holds that the US economy is in a slump and that China will soon rank first. What an opportunity for the Myth Buster!

Satchel Paige’s idea that “Something might be gaining on you” is not new. In previous decades, it was widely believed that Japan would overtake the American economy through seizing ideas that are loosely considered American and making them better: cameras, televisions and automobiles, for example, Canon (CAJ) , Sony (SNE) and Panasonic (PCRFY) . Japanese firms made their mark through a single-minded dedication to quality. Even though the Iphone is thought to have changed the way people communicate, Samsung, a South Korean company, holds higher market share than Apple. So, the idea of Americans inventing a product or technique and someone else perfecting it has been in our face for decades.

A major adherent to this subset of the Work Smarter Not Harder myth is Germany, which is also grabbing American ideas and making them work. The latest target is less attractive emerging markets. Take, for example, the expansion of on-line shopping. The wizard behind the curtain is a German company, Rocket Internet GmbH, which employs 27,000 in 50 countries. While eBay (EBAY) focuses on Russia, China and Brazil – members of the well known BRIC group -- Rocket Internet uses concepts developed by Amazon (AMZN) , Groupon (GRPN) and eBay to target Latin America, Africa (especially Nigeria) and the Middle East. While the American progenitors of online shopping reap the profits of the wealthiest markets, German entrepreneurs make the concept work in the shadow of the United States and Europe, much as Japan first focused on small cars with superior quality.

Being Smarter and Working

An intriguing sidebar of this myth is those who really are smarter; how hard they work is another matter. If you have been in management for a long time, you know that some senior managers possess limited experience managing people, money or projects. They reach their positions by fitting the profile of a good manager -- they’re smart. At least they appear smarter than their colleagues.

Some years ago, the author worked for a CEO who thought he could raise $35 million based on his ability to convince others of the soundness of the project. He flopped. Only when a feasibility study was created that showed the purposes and uses of funds and how the investment would work did the financial spigots turn on. The CEO convinced himself that he wrote the feasibility study. After all, he was smarter than everyone else. It is rumored that he is now selling sand in the Sahara equipped with attractive financial projections.

This vignette reveals the power of this myth – being smart can outduel experience and hard work. Here is how it works. Think of an organization that abhors a new technology, a competitor or a new product. How can they find independent verification for their passion? Senior managers are more likely to believe a point of view if it comes from an outside consultant. Outside means independent; consultant means smart.

According to Duff McDonald’s The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business, one of the worst examples of bad advice was McKinsey & Co. advising AT&T against mobile phones. Let’s give this the myth buster review. Which company did not want to hear that mobile phones had potential? AT&T (T) , the masters of land lines and wall phones? By comparison, which organization was most certain that Fed Ex’s (FDX) overnight mail idea was ridiculous? The Post Office (USPS)? Beyond the idea that mobile phones really might have been a bad idea at that time and beyond the notion that McKinsey could couch its recommendations in a dizzying array of statistics, outside experts confirming what management thought would prove very welcome.

This smart consultant effect is true even if the manager inside the company already believes the idea and even if he or she told the consultant about the idea. Notice the distinction. Many critics cite consultants for giving bad advice. In many instances, they only delivered bad advice derived from the company.

So, some managers who listen to the consultant’s presentation are thinking they agree because they already knew what the consultant says. A few disagree but cannot say anything – after all, the advice is coming from smart, independent consultants. Underlying this sweet spot of the management consultant is the Work Smarter Not Harder myth.

Considering three installments on this intriguing myth, it has staying power. But to get the most out of it, do both: Work Smarter and Harder. The next article will examine another compelling myth.


Michael McTague, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President at Able Global Partners in New York, a private equity firm.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Liked What You Read? Join Equities.com as a contributor and get eyeballs on your content FOR FREE!

Results for ko
Rosner Stocks
4 Mar 15 11:19:36
$ELTP Percent Change Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2015 1:59:23 PM $AVGO $KO $CEHC $HD http://t.co/3EGJnkPMZU
4 Mar 15 11:19:07
@CashRocket @HFTAlert I thank you as well, have some April $KO Calls.
4 Mar 15 11:04:27
@HFTAlert Steve, any insight on $KO as to whether DP are accumulating into this decline?
4 Mar 15 10:47:33
Insider Selling: Theca-Cola EVP Alexander B. Cummings, Jr. Sells 77,720 Shares of Stock $KO http://t.co/vFoo7yfWET
Quantpost Cnsmr Good
4 Mar 15 10:45:50
$KO News: "Do-It-Yourself All Sector Dividend Aristocrat Portfolio $HP $CVX …" http://t.co/hnEhCSWbXE Board view: https://t.co/l66VtcMJq6
Dividend Investing
4 Mar 15 10:45:48
Do-It-Yourself All Sector Dividend Aristocrat Portfolio http://t.co/FE7kMik3o3 $HP $CVX $EGN $NFG $NC $KMB $KO $ADM $SCL $UVV $WEYS $HCP
Income Investing SA
4 Mar 15 10:45:48
Do-It-Yourself All Sector Dividend Aristocrat Portfolio http://t.co/g0U8lSrVVT $HP $CVX $EGN $NFG $NC $KMB $KO $ADM $SCL $UVV $WEYS $HCP
Seeking Alpha
4 Mar 15 10:45:47
Do-It-Yourself All Sector Dividend Aristocrat Portfolio http://t.co/D4vRPegcKJ $HP $CVX $EGN $NFG $NC $KMB $KO $ADM $SCL $UVV $WEYS $HCP
4 Mar 15 10:24:10
$KO: Insider Selling: Theca-Cola EVP Sells 77720 Shares of Stock (KO): http://t.co/npjVVR2BkW
4 Mar 15 10:23:12
$KO: Insider Selling: Theca-Cola EVP Sells 77720 Shares of Stock (KO): http://t.co/fsoH5vILr9
4 Mar 15 10:22:12
$KO: Insider Selling: Theca-Cola EVP Sells 77720 Shares of Stock (KO): http://t.co/dKakXmDb6l
4 Mar 15 10:21:10
$KO: Insider Selling: Theca-Cola EVP Sells 77720 Shares of Stock (KO): http://t.co/0iJ72YTTEK
Sleek Money
4 Mar 15 10:20:07
Insider Selling: Theca-Cola EVP Sells 77,720 Shares of Stock $KO http://t.co/HRmZJ3ybz2
Rosner Stocks
4 Mar 15 10:18:31
$BABA Filings Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2015 12:59:39 PM $KO $EWY $COP $HD http://t.co/fvJjKmbiui
Langan Stocks
4 Mar 15 10:12:36
$GILD Last Price Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2015 1:03:43 PM $VWO $KO $WMIH $SSO http://t.co/B6dAKEi9fL
4 Mar 15 10:06:08
Barcelona! Take me back! $XLF $FXI $BAC $KO $EEM $TLT $EWT $COP $QQQ $VXX $XOP http://t.co/JUFJoVvAWo http://t.co/UVyqUunV6A
Harry Walkman
4 Mar 15 10:03:01
$KO Only Eight Dow Components With Recent Insider Buying, Coca-Cola is One of ... http://t.co/jYFUgNmOJg
Penny Stock Secret
4 Mar 15 10:00:27
Yesterday We Made $89,000 In Just One Trade More Info Here http://t.co/NovWYe2RAx .. $TWO $KO $EMR
4 Mar 15 09:49:51
Right now KO is number 127 for the largest percentage gain out of 204 stocks. $KO KO is up +1.69% in the last http://t.co/Kgf2lmRpyf
4 Mar 15 09:49:24
$KO KO Stock is number 127 for the largest percentage gain out of 204 stocks. $KO KO is up +1.69% in the last 5 da http://t.co/xuyKDETf8u
Breaking News
4 Mar 15 09:47:02
$KO $GIS: Smartest Ways to Invest $1000: http://t.co/OUksOq6JSM
Lauren Holmes
4 Mar 15 09:41:17
$WFC $KO $IBM stocks we closely track from $BRK.B portfolio in http://t.co/huaLsH8iDZ
4 Mar 15 09:21:11
I love this trading girl! $XLF $FXI $BAC $KO $EEM $TLT $EWT $COP $QQQ $VXX $XOP http://t.co/l9JkTCtpHR http://t.co/kjAcNkdzxy
Langan Stocks
4 Mar 15 09:12:10
leahanne: Volume Alert - KO 42.63 Coca-Cola Company $KO Hit http://t.co/9KbTjhYPbm
IH News Desk
4 Mar 15 09:12:09
$XLY Recent News Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2015 11:11:11 AM $EA $KO $CNET $BYSD http://t.co/Mw3PLU0MXi
Investors Hangout
4 Mar 15 09:10:13
leahanne: Volume Alert - KO 42.63 Coca-Cola Company $KO Hit http://t.co/5VO3yYRLLu
Investors Hangout
4 Mar 15 09:10:13
leahanne: Volume Alert - KO 42.63 Coca-Cola Company $KO Hit http://t.co/aaWZ4ITHvt
Mike Turner
4 Mar 15 09:08:44
This Week’s Noteworthy Buys, Sells and Holds http://t.co/Dv4UmZRKVJ #stocks #stocknews $VZ $BAC $KO #turnertrends
4 Mar 15 09:08:17
$VWO Reviews Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2015 11:07:15 AM $KO $BORN $LUV $GE http://t.co/qOaoEutV5L
4 Mar 15 09:08:14
leahanne: Stock Info: Volume Alert - KO 42.63 Coca-Cola Company $KO Hit http://t.co/fTgmyuehZ2
4 Mar 15 09:08:06
$SBUX Financials Updated Wednesday, March 4, 2015 11:07:15 AM $TSO $EFA $KO $BIDU http://t.co/YwERfsjQW1
4 Mar 15 09:08:03
leahanne: $KO Coca-Cola Company: Volume Alert - KO Stock 42.63 Coca-Cola Company http://t.co/tS3Bhawzno
4 Mar 15 09:06:24
Volume Alert - KO 42.63 Coca-Cola Company $KO Hit a high today of 42.91 Closing the day 10:30 at 42.63 -0.32 - http://t.co/BGnFsCO0wk
4 Mar 15 09:06:01
$KO Volume Alert - KO Stock 42.63 Coca-Cola Company $KO Hit a high today of 42.91 Closing the day 10:30 at 42.63 - http://t.co/19sUO1q0s1
4 Mar 15 09:00:22
#sentishiftdown $WFC $VXX $ACT $LNKD $BAC $XLE $KO $GS $PLUG $FEYE #sentiquant 20150304 12:00:25:116
4 Mar 15 08:52:08
The "Stock Options 101" HD Video package is 100% FREE. http://t.co/6TAu75F3hy $WFM $KO $MRK $BMGP $SPG $MNKD http://t.co/8mFNCBCfsw
4 Mar 15 08:50:41
Dow #Stocks Trend $BA $DIS $MCD $DD $HD $GE $VZ $V $KO $NKE $PFE $JPM $UNH $UTX $T $IBM $TRV $MMM $JNJ $AXP @ http://t.co/TvzJfd0RGT
Mark Trader
4 Mar 15 08:32:09
I banked over 200% in gains during my 14-day trial with http://t.co/L2jCaE1M1d. Their 5 guru traders are amazing. $AA $KO $BSX $AVNR
Trader Anónimo
4 Mar 15 08:22:11
$KO - Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4) http://t.co/U27p4u7Vlr
4 Mar 15 08:20:08
Ahmet Kent Muhtar Chairman & CEO Sells $1,500,886 Worth of $KO Coca-Cola Company - #Form4 #InsiderTrading - http://t.co/4DZCDOXP4D
Trader Anónimo
4 Mar 15 08:19:08
$KO - Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4) http://t.co/b3inQDUqQI
Breaking News Now
4 Mar 15 08:19:02
$KO: New Insider Transaction on KO by Executive Vice President: http://t.co/Mg7mMW802c
Insider Alerts
4 Mar 15 08:18:07
NEW insider transaction on $KO reported a moment ago: http://t.co/QsEsYFB9kX
Insider Filings
4 Mar 15 08:16:04
$KO: CUMMINGS ALEXANDER B JR sold a net $1,108,171 in COCA COLA CO. http://t.co/UA6Va10Qwp
4 Mar 15 08:15:08
ALEXANDER CUMMINGS B JR Executive Vice Pres Sells $1,108,171 Worth of $KO Coca-Cola Company - #Form4 ... - http://t.co/MYcBkrkfkM
Cedric Invest
4 Mar 15 08:02:08
$KO Coca Cola – Financials and Valuation http://t.co/GwSwl152Hu
Itai Cohen
4 Mar 15 08:02:02
$KO Coca Cola – Financials and Valuation http://t.co/Oe43e2Y60b
James DiPlata
4 Mar 15 07:15:55
RT @Sentiquant: #sentishiftdown $WFC $ACT $BIDU $KO $PLUG $VXX $INTC $F $DIA $BABA #sentiquant 20150304 10:00:25:489
4 Mar 15 07:00:22
#sentishiftdown $WFC $ACT $BIDU $KO $PLUG $VXX $INTC $F $DIA $BABA #sentiquant 20150304 10:00:25:489
Jack Florek
4 Mar 15 06:52:24
CocaCola details plans to mark 100th birthday of its famous bottle http://t.co/vJjUcSkW9U $KO http://t.co/MsqbJkGBxt
By  +Follow July 1, 2014 7:21AM



blog comments powered by Disqus

About us

Equities.com is the most advanced interactive online social ecosystem for the financial industry, serving as a resource center and next-generation communication platform that connects self-directed investors with public issuers, market experts, and professional service providers and vendors. Registered members can leverage our exclusive proprietary research tools such as the Small-Cap Stars, which outperformed 90% of all small-cap mutual funds, and robust do-it-yourself E.V.A. research reports. The Equities.com Issuer Dashboard is the ideal tool to communicate and manage investor awareness campaigns to the investment community, as well as to access valuable resources to help your company grow.

Market Data powered by QuoteMedia.
Copyright © QuoteMedia. Data delayed 15 minutes unless otherwise indicated. Terms of Use.