Sheryl Sandberg: thinking small

Sheryl Sandberg, co-author of the bestseller Lean In, co-wrote an article for the New York Times called “Speaking While Female”. She says that women get interrupted more at meetings than do men and proposes to add Band-Aids to the process such as hiring quotas for women in management, “no-interruption” policies, or “Obama-style meetings” in which no men were permitted to speak. This reminds me of General Motors taking feeble little steps toward solving their ignition key problems rather than putting keyless ignition systems in all of their cars.

Contrast to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. As noted in my review of The Everything Store, Bezos reengineered meetings at Amazon so that, for the most critical part, neither men nor women would be speaking. People were required to bring their ideas to meetings in written prose form and people would spend the first 15 minutes reading. (Perhaps after that there would be a chance for the interruptions of which Sandberg complains to occur, but by that point ideas were all out there on the table and tied to an author.)

If there are corporate processes where women aren’t being treated equally maybe the first question to ask is “Should we even be engaging in this process?”

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

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