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“Recursive Middle Manager Hell” by Raemon

LessWrong (Curated)

Audio version of the posts shared in the LessWrong Curated newsletter.




I think Zvi's Immoral Mazes sequence is really important, but comes with more worldview-assumptions than are necessary to make the points actionable. I conceptualize Zvi as arguing for multiple hypotheses. In this post I want to articulate one sub-hypothesis, which I call "Recursive Middle Manager Hell". I'm deliberately not covering some other components of his model[1].


Something weird and kinda horrifying happens when you add layers of middle-management.  This has ramifications on when/how to scale organizations, and where you might want to work, and maybe general models of what's going on in the world.

You could summarize the effect as "the org gets more deceptive, less connected to its original goals, more focused on office politics, less able to communicate clearly within itself, and selected for more for sociopathy in upper management."

You might read that list of things and say "sure, seems a bit true", but one of the main points here is "Actually, this happens in a deeper and more insidious way than you're probably realizing, with much higher costs than you're acknowledging. If you're scaling your organization, this should be one of your primary worries."