It’s time to pull out your “I Like Ludwig” t-shirt.

That’s Ludwig as in Wittgenstein, the influential philosopher who pointed out that most sets can’t be unambiguously defined solely through well-defined rules.

Games are an example. There is no list of attributes that accurately classifies solitaire, tennis, football, Dungeons and Dragons, and office politics as games, even though we all know that’s what they are.

Not convinced? (1) Many games are contests against an opponent, but not when you’re playing FreeCell. (2) Many games are played by teams. Not tennis, though. Or FreeCell. (3) Most games have winners and losers. Dungeons and Dragons does not.

As for office politics, like all politics it has game-like characteristics such as having winners and losers. But most games are played for fun. In this day and age there’s little that’s fun about politics of any kind.

Gender classifications – an increasingly contentious issue all working managers must deal with – face the same Wittgensteinian challenge. We each maintain in our subconscious a list of physical and behavioral characteristics we think of as masculine (e.g. hairiness), a different list we think of as feminine (e.g. a higher-pitched voice), and a bunch more that are gender-neutral, for example liking or disliking borscht.

Your feminine/masculine lists and mine probably differ, which is why you and I might find ourselves disagreeing as to your gender, mine, someone else’s, and SNL’s legendary “Androgynous Pat.”

Which leads me to conclude that as a society, and in our HR policies, we’re finding ourselves arguing about the answer to a question that doesn’t have one.

Of more direct relevance to you as a KJR subscriber, we’re expending quite a lot of time and energy on how to deal with gender identification in the workforce. And I’m starting to wonder what the point is.

Never mind the question of whether genes, physiology, specific behaviors, interpersonal attraction, or overall sense of personal identity should be gender’s determinant. That’s of legitimate interest to psychologists, sociologists, maybe those responsible for competitive athletics (and maybe not; it is, as mentioned, a complicated and confusing topic) … and, of course, parents, not to mention the individuals who have or are still sorting out who they are.

It’s also, as we’ve experienced over the past several years, a topic of illegitimate interest for political rabble-rousers who are more interested in scoring points than helping formulate coherent and compassionate public policy – see “politics as a game,” above.

Mercifully, it’s a question that has (I think) a relatively simple answer when the question is how to deal with gender identification in the workplace.

Which brings us to this week’s question to ponder: Why do businesses collect “Gender” as a data field in our HR databases at all? The KJR answer: It’s tradition, and one that long ago outlived its usefulness.

Even if a person’s gender is, in any meaningful way, a predictor of how they would perform in a given role, that would only be a loose correlation at best, and as anyone knows who has passed a class in statistics, statistical significance is entirely different from importance.

So imagine we simply abandoned gender as something we pay attention to in workforce management (marketing and CRM are entirely different matters). Were we to take that step, employees who want their colleagues to identify them as men or women could still choose to dress and behave like stereotypical women or men.

Those who want their colleagues to not care could also dress and behave accordingly.

And those who consider their gender to be both non-binary and something they want a colleague to be aware of could just tell them.

Presumably, nobody would ask a colleague “What gender are you?” on the grounds that the question is (1) nobody’s business, and (2) unbelievably crass.

And if they were that crass, the object of their curiosity ought to answer as follows:


Bob’s last word: I suppose ignoring religion as a dimension of all this would be copping out. And so …

There are those who consider the question of gender to have religious significance, for example the Judeo-Christian bible, which only recognizes men and women as categories. To which I have two observations.

The first is that religion has no place in management, other than a need to accommodate such religion-driven requirements as allowing time for obligatory prayer. The second: Some religions recognize more than two genders.

So unless you think business management should incorporate theology into its HR practices, it would seem that classifying employees by gender is far more trouble than it’s worth.

My legally ignorant solution: Don’t do it.

Now on’s CIO Survival Guide:The successful CIO’s trick to mastering politics.” It’s all about relationships, not just winning and losing. Failing to embrace this fact of organizational dynamics can kill a budding manager’s career.

Recent events have demonstrated, conclusively, that Elon Musk is a lousy leader. Understanding why can help you improve your own leadership skills.

We’ll get there. But we need to prepare:

Older readers will remember the Gabor sisters who were, it was said, famous for being famous.

Twitter is like that too: The only reason to pay attention to it is that many people pay attention to it.

Even before the takeover Twitter was a statistically questionable straw poll combined with a Dumb-Ass Statement of the Day competition. Its accelerating descent into a free-speech absolutist utopia is an excellent argument for ignoring it altogether.

Which leads to this: You’re known by the company you keep. Twitter depends entirely on advertising revenue. Expect quite a few of its advertisers to care that their good names are being tarred by Twitter’s metaphorical brush. They’ll shift their marketing to other, less unsavory platforms, just as Adidas had the good sense to sever its association with the intellectually barren entity known as “Ye.”

And oh, by the way Mr. Ye, Prince did the “formerly known as” thing earlier and better. Just sayin’.

Another thought:

Immediately upon Musk completing its takeover, Twitter’s vermin population demonstrated its ability to quickly and efficiently scale up.

Many well-intentioned but short-sighted progressive tribespeople were horrified. To them I must quote Blazing Saddles’ Hedley Lamarr: Please rest your sphincters. Those tweeting bigotry are already bigots. So are those who read and agree with them. It’s like blowing oxygen at already flaming gasoline, without adding more gas. Nobody’s convincing anyone.

But … isn’t hate speech a problem? “Hate speech” is a phrase chosen by the predictably inept Progressive messaging machine as its rallying cry. It’s a mistake: Hate speech has been protected speech since National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie.

What isn’t and shouldn’t be protected is incitement. To the extent Twitter becomes an incitement free-for-all, it will become one of the biggest litigation targets of all time.

One more point on the free-speech front: Yes, Twitter will likely restore POTUS #45’s access to the platform, but if you don’t like him – especially if you don’t like him – this is brilliant. POTUS #45 now has two alternatives, and it’s Hobson’s choice. He can either continue to post his “thoughts” on TruthSocial, at which point never mind, or he can resume posting on Twitter, thereby damaging his investment in TruthSocial.

More context: In the late 19th century wealthy patrons like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer bought distressed newspapers to ensure their financial stability. (Yes, this grossly oversimplifies the history of the journalism industry. What do you want in a one-sentence summary?)

It’s déjà vu all over again. Rich Guy Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, providing financial stability. Likewise Rich Guy Glen Taylor, who acquired the local Minneapolis/St. Paul newspaper, the Star Tribune, in 2014.

So now, Elon Musk owns Twitter, social media’s financial Wile E. Coyote. Isn’t this just another Rich Guy subsidizing a news outlet?

Not entirely. WashPo and the Strib are, unambiguously, content providers. The Muskian Twitter, in contrast, is a publishing platform, a very different bird.

Bob’s last word: Getting back to you and what out of all this is applicable to you in your role as a leader, it’s how Elon Musk has demonstrated that he’s a lousy leader that you should pay attention to.

How so?

When someone takes over management of an organization the worst thing they can do is make decisions.

Any decisions.

Ignorance is a poor foundation for choosing a course of action. Deciding anything before getting a handle on What’s Going On In There pretty much guarantees bad outcomes.

Like Twitter being abandoned by many of its advertisers, as explained above. Musk driving customers away because he hasn’t fully thought through Twitter’s business model? Not smart.

Add this: Twitter, like all organizations, depends on the dedication and good will of talented staff. Announcing draconian layoffs before getting even the slightest whiff of a hint as to who is worth retaining pretty much ensures that those most worth retaining will be the first to bail.

It’s a problem for leaders who think they’re the smartest person in the room – they figure they’re the only one in the room smart enough to be worth listening to. And so they listen only to themselves, failing to understand that just because they’re smarter than anyone else, that doesn’t mean they’re smarter than everyone else.

On’s CIO Survival Guide:The successful CIO’s trick to mastering politics.” As long-time KJR readers know, relationships outlive transactions. Here’s a fresh take on the subject.