Isolating the Elusive Management Gene


Xconomy Boston — 

They have done it. Finally. Biologists at the National University of Singapore have isolated the Management gene. Now DNA technology will forever change how we think about business—and who runs it. That same rigor that was used to sequence the genome can now tell us who is going to be a good/great manager from the hoi polloi.

It’s about time. Think of the possibilities. Think of the implications for high-tech firms, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists.

Our graduate schools of business can get out of that messy, inaccurate, and flawed job of screening applications by assessing their future competence based on their shrill applications. Applicants will no longer have to lie about all the Lessons Learned in their 15 minutes of business experience. They can save their creativity for their future IRS filings. “Don’t bother renting a suit and a tie, and keep wearing those Birkenstocks and tee shirts, but just ship us a snippet of your hair,” Stanford University will say in the future.

On the other hand, will we even NEED graduate schools of business—why even train what is already there? Did Kobe Bryant need college? Kevin Garnett?

How do businessmen achieve immortality today? Either they fund finding a cure for disease, run for high office, or buy an NFL team. But there is a better way than donating tons of money! With the ability to isolate the Management gene, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates will have a superior option—they can just clone that part of themselves. And no more sucking up to other Billionaires and trying convince the superrich to give away half their fortunes. (“Memo to Bill and Warren: Pound Sand! We don’t do Guilt”—signed, The Forbes 398). Look, if you two guys don’t realize we see through this blatant push to win a Nobel Peace Prize, you are sadly mistaken. Oh no, there is a better way to live forever. The ultimate designer gene: BuffetDNA. If you think the sperm from a Kentucky Derby winner is valuable…

But push it even further. If the DNA for management is valuable, how about the DNA for Mismanagement? If there is a gene for management, there must be one for mismanagement/fraud—right? Now Bernie Madoff and Bernie Ebbers can pay back all that money—by licensing their DNA to the recruiting arms of Citibank, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs. Applicants can be rejected without having them ever enter the labor force. (“Prisoners Ebbers, 158-382, and Madoff, 147-362, please report with your plastic cups to the infirmary.”)

The evolutionary psychologists have driven management science out of the ice age—the old saw about culture and socialization being the primary determinants of behavioral differences is dead, dead, dead. Now it is obvious: Biology rules! The difference between individuals and their ability to succeed in business is biological.

OK then, what are the next steps? Will 23andMe become 23foraFee? Wait, there seems … Next Page »

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Howard Anderson is the founder of The Yankee Group and co-founder of Battery Ventures. He currently holds the William Porter Chair of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Follow @

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5 responses to “Isolating the Elusive Management Gene”

  1. Michael Ashley Schulman, CFA says:

    So we should short b-schools and go long biotech?
    Any chance we could use a phage to insert the gene into bad managers?
    And could you quantify the market size for managers, please?

  2. Jesssss says:

    I guess there should be a lot of follow up studies about what kind of mix of DNA will produce the banlanced management team of an organization. How should a firm differentiates itself from others. It could happen in one day, but I believe it’s still distant from pure science to real-world management. And the world will be really boring if everything can be predicted, isn’t it?