Venkat Rao deeply examines the US and British versions of The Office and tries to distill a theory of management from them. Seriously, read the whole thing.
Update: The essay’s description of over-performing losers moving up to join the ranks of the clueless (if you read the essay this will make sense) reminds me of a story. There was a guy on our high school football team who wanted to come in first in every drill. If the coaches told us to take two laps around the track, he had to finish those two laps first. If the coaches had us pushing a sled, he’d push the sled the hardest. I won’t tell you what all the other players called him, but even at that early age, most people seemed to get that his effort was almost entirely misspent.
The guy wasn’t a great player, and the coaches didn’t give him any extra playing time because he practiced harder than he needed to. His extra investment in over-performing in unimportant drills didn’t make him a better football player. I wonder what he’s up to today?