On the Plagiarism of Marc Andreessen

Tsk, terrible:

Do email exactly twice a day — say, once first thing in the morning, and once at the end of the workday.
Allocated half an hour or whatever it takes, but otherwise, keep your email client shut and your email notifications turned off.

Anyone who needs to reach you so urgently that it can’t wait until later in the day or tomorrow morning can call you, or send a runner, or send up smoke signals, or something else.

Or, more likely, find someone else who can do whatever it is that needs doing.

Entirely true, but obviously just a copy of Robert Townsend’s advice about phone calls in “Up the Organisation”.

Which is, of course, along with Parkinson’s Law and The Peter Principle one of the only three books on management that anyone should ever read. And also one of the three that everyone must read.

So, copying without attribution: we convict Marc Andreessen of plagiarism. Sorry, done and dusted, guilty.

Hmm, what’s that? You think that maybe Andreessen hasn’t read Townsend? No, that’s impossible, guilty it is.

16 thoughts on “On the Plagiarism of Marc Andreessen”

  1. My triplet has The Mythical Man Month plus Parkinson and Peter. I think the only book on project management that quotes Heinlein. 😉

  2. Do email exactly twice a day — say, once first thing in the morning, and once at the end of the workday.
    Allocated half an hour or whatever it takes, but otherwise, keep your email client shut and your email notifications turned off.
    Anyone who needs to reach you so urgently that it can’t wait until later in the day or tomorrow morning can call you, or send a runner, or send up smoke signals, or something else.
    Or, more likely, find someone else who can do whatever it is that needs doing.

    This guy apparently has zero millennials working for him.

  3. OK I’ve no idea what Townend wrote but if he advocated spending most of the day with his phone off the hook, which is the only way I can make any sense of the plagiarism claim, then he should not be taken seriously. It is genuinely more efficient to take decisions and be consulted in real time than to cram it all into 2 periods at the start and end of each day. How did he advocate working in teams in different cities, countries, timezones? A swift exchange of emails is even more efficient than a phone call. I don’t think I’ll bother with further investigation of either writer.

  4. I find that a couple of quick informal e-mail questions to a client during the production of a piece of work often improves the work, makes it far more on-point and avoids asking questions and requesting clarifications in the finished piece. Time (and money) saved for the client, value add way out of proportion to the effort involved.

    I can imagine that if you’re in a job where you could spend all day chasing around e-mails of low importance that blocking them into certain times has its advantages, and would in fact reduce the volumes of low-importance e-mails to treat. My profession is not one of them.

  5. I find I mainly send emails not to ask somebody something, but to keep them informed. If they choose not to read it or act on, it’s no skin off my nose.

  6. It all depends on what work you’re trying to do, and what emails you get. I could spend hours trawlling through emails every day, or I could physically move a couple of feet and spend hours getting some programming done* – which often requires several decaminutes of staring into the air to work out what I need to type, the sort of cogitating that is completely destroyed by somebody interupting me.

    * My main work computer doesn’t have web/email ability unless I do drastic reconfiguration that results in me not being able to actually do any work.

  7. This is all about bueaucracy – not about people who actually do a job of work and need to respond in real time.
    I do get an awful lot of emails that I can leave to the weekend, let alone junk mail, but I also occasionally get important emails that *need* to be answered/followed-up that very day, preferably within minutes in a lartge minority of cases.
    “Anyone who needs to reach you so urgently that it can’t wait until later in the day or tomorrow morning can call you, or send a runner, or send up smoke signals, or something else.” So, if my ‘phone is busy, send a runner who will take three hours to get here (an hour-and-a-bit by train). Yeah – brilliant idea!

  8. The plagiarism is potentially useful for those of us so busy that we don’t have time to read the management guru bibles. The email thing might have still worked in a world when people used phones rather than skype and occasionally even met each other. In a world where vast false economies are made on travel and communication costs it no longer works.

  9. This sounds like advice for managers, not advice for folk doing “work”.

    Phoning a client lead within an hour or so of them emailing you has a much better chance of getting a contract than contacting them later during your ‘ designated email period’.

    Arranging times of meetings, communicating with clients over work done or queries about work to be done, and various other bits and bobs benefit from not limiting comms to twice a day.

  10. Email is also handy when auditors/regulators come knocking. It serves as an easy audit trail on a lot of things. Although it usually becomes a CYA exercise….

  11. Oh, another similar story! I’m still surprised when I read about plagiarism in books. Because it’s easy to reveal it using special plagiarism detection software as iThenticate, Unplag… Personally, I’m sure that publishers should use it in every case to avoid plagiarism issues.

  12. Indeed, Townsend was writing for senior managers, in 1967. Of course, he also recommended that you should try phoning yourself (while travelling) to see what a mess awaited external callers, and was generally a hierarchical subversive. Tim’s right, the book is still a must-read.

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