February 23, 2007
News & Opinion: The Three Letter Word
Yesterday, Kate was talking about kicking ass.
Today, I am going to go the other way and talk about Bob Sutton's new book No Asshole Rule. I have gotten to know Bob over the last year and I think he is onto something with the book. The genesis for the book was a short piece he submitted to Harvard Business Review for their annual breakthrough ideas section. He got more response for that piece than any of the other four articles he wrote for the periodical. Bob figured he was onto something.
The title puts off a lot of people (including Jack) and the media conflicted over whether they should cover the book. Inc. Magazine had the courage to cover the book and did a nice Q&A with Bob. Fast Company also gave it a first look.
I have been concerned by the growing use of profanity in society at large, but don't find myself bothered here. The term captures the severity of harm these individuals inflict on people. Bob calls a spade, a spade (or an asshole, an asshole as the case may be).
Here is the unexpected part that I think is going to make the book do well. I think the title makes people think you are going to get this light, fluffy book full of rants about bad people. Bob instead delivers the same research based approach he does in all his books. Readers are going to be surprised by the weight of the material. The story people are going to tell other people is "you shouldn't work with assholes and No Asshole Rule has the evidence for why you should get rid of them."