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May 21, 2014

"17 Hard Truths Every College Grad Needs To Understand"

A lot of good advice here for young people. This alone is worth the price of admission:

5. You finished four years of bloated, long-winded 12-page college essays. Unfortunately, the real world is busy and demands brevity. Remember: less is always more.


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Eric Falkenstein

Unless you are going to write regs passed by legislators that need to be filled in later by crony capitalists ('Volker rule' now about 1000 pages).

John Henry

Amen to the verbose papers.

In grad school in the 70's one of my profs had come out of P&G and taught us about the 1 page memo. In P&G nothign was permitted to be more than 1 page. You want to bring a new product to market? Explain the justification in 1 page. Want to spend $100mm building a new plant? Justify in 1 page. And so on.

You could use as much additional supporting data as desired such as layouts, market studies, financial projections but the justification had to be one page.

He made us write 1 page case studies.

I use a lot of case studies in my MBA classes since 1982 and I have always forbade more than 2 pages. This is in the syllabus and discussed first night and so on but there is always someone who thinks that what they have to say is so valuable I will allow them 3 pages.

Wrong. Whatever is on the first 2 pages is what I grade on. Since the conclusion is on the 3rd page that I tore off and threw away, their grade usually suffers.

Most case studies have 5-10 things that the student can talk about. Only 1 or 2 are really important, though. I tell them to focus on what is important and forget the rest.

John Henry

John Henry

Before there were PC's there were word processors. Wang was a leading brand.

They built a plant in Puerto Rico in 1985 that was the largest industrial building in the Commonwealth. The plant controller had been sent down from Massachusetts and was one of my MBA students.

She explained that An Wang didn't even like 1 page memos. The PR plant was justified entirely verbally. As she explained it, someone went in and said:

"Mr Wang we should build a plant in Puerto Rico."

"OK, how big should it be?"

"About 300,000 square feet."

"How much will it cost?"


"OK, do it"

I am sure there must have been more involved that that but my student swore up and down that this was the basic process for everything at Wang.

John Henry


Your Mr Wang is an idiot or else someone who had already established a high-level of trust in some of his subordinates to make sound decisions - so much trust that he didn't need to hear the details or second guess them; he just wanted know the broad scope (size, cost) of what was being proposed.
But in no possible world is your reported conversation a "justification" or any type of rational case for building a factory somewhere. Either it's a _request_ (relying on Mr Wang's high trust) or it's a moronic way of running a business. I'd put my money on the former, but what an incredible disservice to teach a youngster that such outrageous terseness would be laudable as a "justification"! Outside perhaps of marketing, "less" is sometimes just less.

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