I decided to complete the content portion of the re-read this week.   From a team-level perspective, I believe we can all recognize some if not all of the behaviors seen in Bad Blood, albeit on a far less sociopathic scale. If this were a business novel, it would be easy to assume that the behavior shown in the book is hyperbole used to make a grand point.  In Theranos’s case, the supporting reading I have done suggests the book is somewhat understated. Why do people take the abuse? Why is money the only thing that matters to some? Why do some people say yes to doing work they know is ethically wrong? I am not sure this book answers those questions nor do I think my analysis can shed light on the psychological rationale of individuals; however, next week we will wrap up our re-read by reflecting on the impact of Theranos like behavior at the team level.  Remember that we will re-read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell next (get a copy soon). (more…)

My intent is to complete our re-read of Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup in three more weeks.  The book has 24 chapters and an epilogue, therefore there will be two more weeks on the book and then a wrap-up.  We will re-read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell next. This week we tackle three more chapters in which we learn money is thicker than blood (something I learned working in a department store during college), and that people with a moral basis for ethics always have a breaking point (something I have only had to tangentially face).
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We are re-reading Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 – Buy a copy and read along). This week we tackle two related chapters.  Over the course of the book to date, we have seen secrets and lies (hence the title), intellectual theft, poor diagnostics and careers being destroyed.  This week we add a suicide to the hot mess that is Theranos. (more…)


We are re-reading Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 – Buy a copy and read along).  Chapter 10 focuses on what when Hollywood makes a movie from Bad Blood will be a titanic battle between the indomitable Elizabeth and a career military officer, but what is really a struggle between right and wrong.  In the chapter, Elisabeth forms a relationship with General James Mattis, a Marine Corps General (now Secretary of Defense). Elizabeth and Sunny convince General Mattis to deploy the minilab in Afghanistan; enter Lieutenant colonel (LTC) Shoemaker.  As Mattis would put it later in the chapter, who is LTC Shoemaker?  Who he is, is the gatekeeper between Theranos and the troops.  The premise sold to Mattis is that the miniLab would be able to improve the treatment and survivability of injured soldiers. Mattis is renowned as being very loyal to his troops. As with everything Theranos there are problems, including the chronic ‘say anything and deliver very little’ (over promising). (more…)

This week the fallout from overpromising the on the ability to deliver the miniLab spreads to Safeway in our re-read of Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.  Overpromising is a problem every team and organization faces. Almost all humans want to say yes and make people happy. As trained problem solvers, we rarely meet problems that we can not overcome, and hence we are optimistic in what we promise.  The shenanigans at Theranos might not have the same root cause. Buy the book and read along!   (more…)

 

We are back with Chapter 8 of Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 – Buy a copy and read along!). Chapter 8, titled The miniLab, focuses on overpromising and continues to layer on toxicity to the Theranos story. (more…)

I am continuing to tune the approach to Bad Blood, Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2018 – Buy a copy and read along!) Today we tackle a single chapter.  Chapter 6, titled Sunny, introduces Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani to the story.  Sunny, Holmes’ live-in boyfriend (the stress on the live-in part is to shine a light on just how close Holmes was to Sunny), adds another layer of toxicity to the Theranos story. The toxicity feels extraordinary but is not that uncommon when teams break down.  (more…)