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Bluetooth bras and bumping bozos

Evan Schuman | Feb. 5, 2014
Tech overreach now has its mascot: the True Love Tester bra. How do companies green-light such hare-brained product ideas?

Let's say that the wearer finds true love, and it's in the frozen-food aisle. Or at a trade show, or in a job interview. Bra cups that fling open with much gusto are not considered a sign of professionalism. Or say that you're a woman who would let a guy get to second base, as we used to say, even in the absence of true love. If your bra refuses to cooperate with anyone other than Mr. Right, it's not disastrous, but it is annoying. And exhibiting to a suitor the inability to master one's own undergarments is likely not a first-date highlight.

I also have to wonder how many women are interested in adopting a Bluetooth-enabled mating display to be deployed the moment true love is detected. It seems more likely that she is going to want to carefully consider the time and place to reveal her feelings. I just don't think many women would defer to the judgment of their clothing on something like that. There can be complicating considerations that your bra just isn't going to be cognizant of. I mean, what if you were at a family Thanksgiving gathering when you felt true love stir upon being introduced to your sister's fiance? One microchip decision later and the dinner conversation takes a turn for the awkward.

It doesn't take many of these not-at-all improbable scenarios to begin to wonder, "Who thought this up?" But the infinitely better question is, "Who approved it?" That's the problem with engineer/IT overreach. These people tend to be very intelligent and -- for the most part -- highly creative and imaginative. You want them to throw out as many ideas as possible, but with management there to pick and choose the ones that make business sense.

I think this might be a case of having "bumping bozos" on the org chart. Years ago, a tech executive developed the bumping-bozos theory to explain why so many red-hot Silicon Valley startups tend to implode after hitting a certain employee count. His idea was that, no matter how hard you try, eventually you're going to have bozos (idiots, if you will) on the payroll. And that's OK. Bozos can be productive employees, as long as they're surrounded on the org chart by good people. You can have a bozo head of engineering, as long as the engineers below know which instructions to ignore and which to obey and as long as that bozo engineering head reports to a smart engineering VP.

The problem is that as red-hot tech startups grow -- and grow furiously fast -- the founders inevitably have to take their eyes off of routine hires and delegate that to others. And if no one is watching, you will inadvertently have a bozo reporting to a bozo: bumping bozos. Then you have a bozo coming up with wacky ideas, which are approved by the boss bozo. And lo and behold, this once red-hot company is rolling out things like Bluetooth bras.


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