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America loves small business… The halo effect and other business delusions… How cricket will cost business… Google’s pampered staff

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Small-business heroes

Small-business owners are seen as the most competent people in the US, ahead of soldiers, doctors and religious leaders, according to recent poll by market researchers Harris Interactive.

The poll, of more than 1000 people across the US, found that 54% have a great deal of confidence in small-business owners; only 3% have little or no confidence in them.

The show of faith doesn’t extend to the entire business community: only 16% of respondents had confidence in the managers of major companies, placing them way down at 11th on the list.

But the top end of town did better than the bottom three on the list, those perennials of unpopularity: lawyers, journalists and politicians.

Denting the managerial “halo”

Following the advice of a business book or business school case study to get a competitive advantage can be a bad idea. The research underpinning the advice is often deeply flawed and worse, obscures the basic truth that success in the business world is based on decisions made under uncertainty and in the face of factors executives cannot control, writes the McKinsey Quarterly.

In an adaptation of his book, The Halo Effect: and eight other business delusions that deceive managers, Phil Rosenzweig explores some of the misconceptions and delusions found in the business world, particularly those concerning the ability of executives to achieve durable superior performance. These include the idea that variables such as leadership and corporate culture have a causal relationship to financial performance.

Improve your powers of critical thinking instead.

Costly game, cricket

Australian employees will spend 13.5 million hours watching World Cup Cricket over the internet instead of working, cost their employers $371 million, according to a Marshal Internet Management prediction reported by ITWire.

The Cricket World Cup, which starts today in the Caribbean, is being televised primarily on pay TV, leaving many sports fans to turn to the fast internet connection at work for their sports fix. And with 51 games being played over the eight-week tournament, that’s a lot of cricket.

Marshal says an increase in the availability of both live and packaged online video sports coverage is behind the trend. They base their prediction on the assumption that one in 10 of Australia’s approximately 10 million workers will spend 30 minutes a day watching cricket each day of the World Cup.

Google’s own serial bus

The benefits of working in one of the fastest-growing IT companies in the world are multiplying. Not only do staff at Google get free food prepared by a chef, a climbing wall, volleyball court, two lap pools, free haircuts and car servicing – they now get picked up for work.

The company now ferries a quarter of its employees – about 1200 – to and from work each day aboard 32 shuttle buses equipped with comfortable leather seats and wireless internet access, according to a report from the New York Times. Considered a perk to attract staff in a competitive market for engineering skills, the wireless internet on the bus means workers are logged on longer, too.

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