The bell curve

Jack Welch ‘pioneered’ the ‘Vitality Curve’ model which basically ranked employees along a bell curve, with the top 20% rewarded, next 70% retained and the bottom 10% fired. Many companies basically practice some degree of this and though it was done more overtly in the 1980s than now, it persists. Maybe they won’t fire the bottom 10% but somehow they get ‘managed out’ and count towards natural attrition somehow.

The thing is that this idea of using the bell curve to judge people and then have some kind of consequence applied to them isn’t pioneered by Jack Welch or General Electric. It’s been something that the education system has been doing to people, through major exams, national exams, all sorts of standardised testing. One could even say they apply those principles with even more rigour and vigour.

I’ve written a while back to question why we are trying to judge people for a single set of attributes or talent (in this case academic subjects) instead of helping them discover what they are good at and helping them shine? Instead of trying to classify people into buckets of Grade A, B, C; why don’t we classify them into different sets of skills instead? Instead of letting people choose subjects, why don’t let them choose how they want to contribute to the world? And then we can work out the subjects, the skills needed from there.

If we want to make things better by making better things, then we got to start dreaming. Of the better things.