Combatting Bullshit in the Workplace

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Listen to “#31 – Combatting Bullshit in the Workplace” on Spreaker.

In this episode of the Breaking the Fever podcast, we speak with Ian McCarthy about the many faces of bullshit—how it’s different from lies, the harmless and harmful forms it can take, and what organizations can do to measure and mitigate its effects.

We discuss:

  • How McCarthy’s background as an engineer, particularly engineering’s focus on authenticity and risk management, have shaped his approach to bullshit
  • Why reading the seminal essay On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt prompted his curiosity about the role of BS in the corporate world
  • The many shapes of BS, from pub banter to persuasion tool
  • What distinguishes BS from lying
  • BS as a power strategy with career risks
  • The effect of BS on organizational cultures, and how culture rewards BS
  • The use of BS in the more visionary and creative stages or parts of an organization
  • How organizational leaders can counter BS when it is destructive
  • The place of BS in ESG
  • How remote work shapes BS in organizations

Ian McCarthy is the W.J. VanDusen Professor of Innovation and Operations Management. He came to Simon Fraser University from the University of Warwick, England, where he was a Reader and Head of the Organizational Systems Strategy Unit. He worked for several years as a manufacturing engineer before earning his PhD in operations strategy from the University of Sheffield. His research and teaching focus on operations management, change and innovation management, and social media.