Business: Workplace
Zeno’s Ladder   (+15, -4)  [vote for, against]
Right up there with the Peter Principle

A brief background is in order:

Zeno’s Paradox: silly Greek wordplay arguing that you can’t get to the finish line.

Corporate Ladder: vertically oriented linear squirrel cage.

Problem: Corporations often take a rigid view of the corporate ladder. Because of the pyramidal corporate structure, a fine middle manager can get stuck on the ladder just one rung below his incompetent boss, who is not going anywhere, or two managers can find themselves competing for the one rung above them.

Solution: Zeno adds an extra rung wherever one is needed, and removes any extras. The previously frustrated middle manager can now be promoted thousands of times, never actually getting to his boss’s level. From time to time, the distance between rungs is renormalized to avoid bunching up.

Added wrinkle: Dual Zeno’s Ladder

Problem: Balancing the numbers of managers relative to technical people.

Solution: Two ladders are used. Rapidly adding rungs to one ladder while keeping the other ladder static entices those on the static ladder to make a lateral move. In this way management can achieve balanced staffing, and can even get people to make downward moves (via the Checkout Line Paradox).
-- ldischler, Oct 23 2002

One ladder, two ladders, red ladder, blue ladder.
Like this but to do with m/f relationships [egbert, Oct 25 2002]

Wonderful! You're halfway to getting a croissant!
-- lurch, Oct 23 2002

Grease the rungs.
-- 8th of 7, Oct 23 2002

I like this - if I understand it correctly, it's like: "Every year I get promoted to be halfway closer to being CEO than I was"
I confess though that I hoped this idea might be a clever version of the "Jacob's Ladder" toy in which the 'rungs' of the ladder get successively smaller towards the end such that an infinite number of them need to flip over for it to finish.
-- hippo, Oct 23 2002

Correct me if I am wrong, could this be likened to a vertical sort of "greased pig" contest?
-- blissmiss, Oct 23 2002

We have this where I work, it's called a Flat Structure. Everyone is at the same level, you don't work for someone, you report to them. As the Pointy Haired Boss said "Now, instead of not getting a promotion, you'll only not get a raise".

Admittedly conceptually a different shape to Zeno's Ladder, but the end result of getting nowhere slowly is obtained.
-- egbert, Oct 23 2002

The engineers solution to the Zeno ladder thingy is that...Yes, you'll never actually get there, but you will get close enough for all practical purposes. In this case presumably thats fiddling corporate accounts, and arranging lucrative fact finding missions to South Georgia Is.
-- Zircon, Oct 23 2002

In our case, close enough for all practical purposes means extra responsibility with no extra reward.
-- egbert, Oct 23 2002

Corporate Mobius Ladder.
-- Mr Burns, Oct 24 2002

in the Peter Principle, you get promoted to the management position just above the one you are fit to hold - on this ladder, are you at the rung above the one that your vertigo can cope with? croissant
-- po, Oct 24 2002

sounds good since i'm already in a good position. manager
-- bobthebuffbodbikerbegsforhotbikinigirls, Oct 24 2002

This type of virtual ladder is exactly what was wrong with Ford when I was there. The org chart became a complete mess, with many one-reports and simply too many cooks in the kitchen.
-- RayfordSteele, Oct 25 2002

Aaah the Ford Ladder...where the engineering and purchasing depts gets to sh*t on the suppliers below.
-- egbert, Oct 25 2002

[Po] In my former employment, I noticed that if you always lost money for the company, rapid advancement was assured. This I termed the Inverse Peter Principle. There is a psychology that is common to the upper management responsible for promotions. They are not able to admit that the person that they’ve just promoted created a disaster that cost the company millions. If this recently promoted knucklehead had previously made money for the company, the accounts would balance and management could fire him. However, with an unbalanced loss, upper management is forced to mark the loss as “education”, and then move knucklehead up a rung so that he can make the money back. And with each succeeding disaster, up another rung up he goes. The secret to getting to the top was to lose money in each succeeding position. (If knucklehead every by pure chance made money, or pretended that he had, his rapid ascent would immediately end.)
-- ldischler, Oct 25 2002

Good grief, now that is dysfunctional.
-- bristolz, Oct 25 2002

I think that it is similar to a gambler doubling his bet with each loss. Eventually, if he dosen't run out of money first, he will make good his losses. At least, that’s the psychology.
-- ldischler, Oct 25 2002

So.....So.....If, I understand this correctly one can effectively be endlessly promoted, faster and faster untill there is no way of knowing on which rung you stand because you are in transition to the next one? Well.... Well..... The thing is, my friend, you should have named your idea Heracleitus' ladder and as for silly wordplay, is that what you think of me? (I would have annotated before but I had some trouble getting to my computer)
-- zeno, Jan 05 2005

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