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The Lost Art of Connecting Dots: Part Ten

Author’s Note: As a public service, I’m going to lay off our Dictator-in-Chief … this time. Considering the fact that he continues to lead with his chin, it won’t be easy. Instead, I’m going after a member of his Lackey Squad that isn’t even part of the mainstream media, at least not yet. I usually reserve my commentaries on the juvenile inanity of Harvard Business Review (HBR) for the O’Brien Communications Group blog. But sometimes even HBR manages to outdo itself. When that happens, all bets are off.

I’d like you to read the paragraph below. Then I’d like you to think about it. After that, please read it again and think about it some more:

To bring the pandemic under control, almost everyone needs to come to see getting vaccinated as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. What business leaders decide about Covid-19 vaccine mandates will go a long way toward fostering the social norms … When a company mandates Covid-19 vaccinations, the normative information they provide is that these vaccinations are safe and effective … over time this becomes the shared understanding … when companies don’t mandate vaccination, it delegitimizes the Covid-19 vaccines by suggesting that the science is unsettled.

I can’t dismiss that. I can’t regard it as a piece of innocuous fluff. I can’t see it as a COVID hack: “Do this, and we’ll free the planet of communicable disease.” I can’t accept it at face value and move on. It’s deliberate. It’s political. It’s pernicious. It’s authoritarian. It reflects the state of the world in which it seems more and more of us are living complacently and without question. And I continue to believe, however stubbornly or quixotically, that words have meaning.

I know what you’re thinking: “Dude. Come on. You just copied and pasted some stuff from 1984 and plugged in business leaders, company, companies, and COVID-19 in there in a few places.” Don’t I wish.

I also didn’t copy and paste it from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, Vox, Slate, Daily Kos, or The National Enquirer. You’d be forgiven for thinking it came from any of those, especially the last. But no. It came straight out of that apotheosis of faux-intellectual, pseudo-intellectual ideology, Harvard Business Review (HBR) in an article entitled, “Why Business Leaders Need to Mandate the Covid-19 Vaccine”.

That’s right. The fog of academia has become the new fog of war. The difference is, in the fog of war, the bad guys aren’t acting like the good guys. And only Gomer Pyle would fall for it if they were.

Oh, Really?

Yes. If the devil is in the details (he is), language is one of his favorite hiding places. So, let’s look at the language of this ideological diatribe. And let’s start with the language of the title, specifically this: Need to mandate. Its authoritarian tone notwithstanding, you have to wonder if HBR is willing to go halfsies on the liability insurance for those businesses it’s telling what to do — or to pony up for the legal expenses those businesses will incur when they’re sued after someone gets sick or dies from the alleged vaccine.

Then there’s this: Almost everyone needs to come to see getting vaccinated as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. The authors of this political trash are Marianne Cooper, a senior research scholar at the VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab at Stanford University, and Maxim Voronov, professor of organization studies at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto. Is there a doctor in the house?

I wonder what Marianne and Max would think if I wrote this: Almost everyone named Marianne or Max needs to come to see gargling with razor blades as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. Okay. Maybe that’s a tad extreme. How about this? Almost everyone named Marianne or Max needs to come to see getting an annual flu shot as the unquestioned, right thing to do for themselves and for others. Would that fly? Why don’t business leaders have to mandate flu shots?

Here’s a beauty: What business leaders decide about Covid-19 vaccine mandates will go a long way toward fostering the social norms. Huh? Business leaders foster social norms? Since when? Do you wonder what industries Marianne and Max think those business leaders should come from? It’s a pretty safe bet oil and coal wouldn’t make the list.

Next up: When a company mandates Covid-19 vaccinations, the normative information they provide is that these vaccinations are safe and effective … over time this becomes the shared understanding. Unless they don’t. When they don’t, the company loses employees. And when that happens, quitting — rather than submitting to forced injections — becomes the normative information.

And here’s my favorite: When companies don’t mandate vaccination, it delegitimizes the Covid-19 vaccines by suggesting that the science is unsettled. Settled science is an oxymoron, an impossibility. Calling science settled delegitimizes science. Settled science is synonymous with ideology, which is exactly what Marianne, Max, and HBR are peddling.

Lowering the Bar

I wouldn’t take business advice from HBR, which now publishes statements of the obvious for pre-teens who read at a first-grade level. So, there’s less than a filet mignon’s chance in a phone booth full of Pit Bulls that I’ll be taking medical advice from HBR.

I have visions of the Founding Fathers flopping in their graves like so many gaffed flounder. A mere 232 years from the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, their grand experiment in individual liberty has been reduced to a bloated, dysfunctional, dictatorial government run by mercenary political fat cats and sycophantic functionaries with their fingers in every conceivable pie. Add a brain-dead mainstream media that peddles prevailing narratives on command, and here we are.

You’ve been warned kids. Now that we have all that out of the way, now that HBR is in the business of politics and prescriptions, and now that business leaders will be mandating COVID shots and taking the lead on establishing social norms, we should be good to go.

If you refuse to get the shot, where would you like your morale-boosting beating to be administered?

Our wish is your command.

Mark O'Brienhttps://obriencg.com/
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sitting here, having just read this and thinking. well it’s obviously well reasoned and it takes apart the good old Harvard Business Review quite skillfully. But at the same time I’m thinking, we’ve all been living with this plague for god knows how long and here’s a draconian measure that has very obviously been taken out of desperation. But at the same time, I keep thinking about the 99% new case rate among the unvaccinated, and that leads me further down the road to thinking well maybe that would be substantially lower if everybody finally got vaccinated. I can understand
    questioning the authoritarian aspects of a missive like this. Where I get confused is the simply question of why, if there is something that can help, and that’s been proven to some extent, why the hell wouldn’t you just do it and see what happens. It’s certainly a lot more proactive than sitting around stubbornly refusing to be vaccinated because it’s the big bad government telling you what to do in an Orwellian way.

    • Hi, Jim. Valid points all. And, for the record, I took the jab.

      Along with the authoritarian overstepping on HBR’s part, to say nothing of its sweeping generalizations and absurd presumptions, it’s the “to some extent” part that troubles me. That’s also why any notions of settled science trouble me. Something can be settled. Something can be science. But no one thing can be both. Science is the absence of settling. And the more haste with which we do anything, the more likely we are to manifest the Law of Unintended Consequences:

      https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/myocarditis.html

      Needless to say, all of this is far from over.

      Thank you for weighing in.

  2. Great article, Mark. I am reminded of a hospital in NY that mandated all staff be vaccinated for the covid. Most of the staff in the maternity ward walked off the job and the hospital had to close the ward. All this hype and threats have nothing to do with the attributes or risks of the vaccine. It is the old story of “follow the money”. Hundreds of biliions of dollars are flowing to big pharma. Money is power. The list of people from government, to media to wealthy individuals and companies are all at the feeding trough. It seems that we have returned to the old days of the industrial revolution where management by whip and chain was the norm. Today our big government and those that pull the strings behind the curtain and their paid lackies and cohorts are managing (or trying to) by fear, threats, pressure, and coercion. I for one will not be bullied.

    • Thank you, Ken. I don’t know how much this has to do with it, but Grandma O’Brien loved to say, “There’s no sense being Irish if you can’t be thick.” I’m really bad at being told what to do.

      I just hope we can turn the tide before we drown in Big Government.

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