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I was looking at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop website and I found this quote that's really something else, here:

Good work comes from teams where no one accounts for the origin of the idea.


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Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedKavalier

I have seen a similar one from one of the American presidents or generals can't remember which one.  'You can get a lot done when you aren't worried about who does what.'

Which is probably great for the founder or leader or general.  Less convinced issues good for the foot soldier.  work is a competitive environment and it also leaves it open for bad manages to stick to roles and responsibilities when it suits them and ignore them when it doesn't.

Lucio Buffalmano, Kavalier and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBel

Yeah, you're both absolutely right.

It can be a thin line between a great dream team, and a leader's manipulation.

As long as one believes in the cause, loves the people around, and if there's something in it for him also in practical terms, then it can be a great team and indeed not looking for credit can only make it even better.

On the other hand, if the spoils go almost all to the man in charge and you're left with crumbles, if the people around you are all looking for personal advancement, and if the cause is the typical business cause of "make more money", then...

This is a case where a healthy dose of cynicism helps, actually.
As usual, don't go so far that you never recognize great people, leaders, or causes, but have enough that you don't get screwed over.

And if it's a general who says that, the manipulation would be a heck more apparent if one were to amend the quote with a more cynical, but also quite realistic:

We can get a lot done when you aren't worried about who sits in the command room, and who gets shot at for the glory of the (general / flag / empire / king)

-Yours truly,
The General


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I agree guys.

To be clearer, I interpreted the quote as (almost all) corporate doublespeak, meant to hoard paternity for works that are in fact probably originated by collaborators.


  • there is an inherent contradiction in putting on the website the quote in question, followed by his prominent name (and title of "founding partner");
  • he is old. It is very probable that his creative phase may be over, and "his" new works may be now the product of the ideas and originality of others;
  • it just doesn't make (full) sense. Why not recognize who originated the idea? Ie, what's the drawback?

Still, the frame he uses is better than what other architects used to do. Frank Lloyd Wright, for instance, used to be much more abrasive in saying that all others were just subordinates implementing his ideas.

Here above, instead, the archistar is doing something different:

  • he is apparently saying "no one" (not even him) should be identified as creator;
  • but the firm's name is his, of course. So in the absence of any origination, it is going to still be his.

A bit like King Arthur and the Round Table: in saying that no knight should have had preeminence (hence the round table), he was implicitly awading himself the higher status (because he was King!).

Is it better to power hoard or to power recognize in one's business?

So the question for me is: in one's business, is it better to power-hoard the origin of work, or to power-recognize that some work products are others' ideas and implementation?

The case for power-hoarding the origin and merit of work in one's business

The case for power-hoarding is:

  • the "boss" created the business;
  • the "boss" deserves all credit;
  • giving credit to others is risky; they may get to be known and go away, and even bring away part of the business;
  • it is possible to do it in socially-savvy ways, such as here above

The case for power-recognizing the origin and merit of others' work in one's business

The case is:

  • giving (public) credit where credit is due is the most high-power behavior possible: it shows lack of fear, an abundance mindset, and a straight behavior: thus it may attract more clients and friends in the beginning
  • the risk can be minimized by choosing wisely the people to associate with at the start: avoiding psychopaths, narcissists, choosing givers, etc.
  • if a collaborator gets to be known, that may enlarge the pie for everyone! If Wright had maintained good relationships with his subordinates, he could have continued to work with them even after they opened their firms, instead of losing the work relationships for good.
  • paradoxically, hoarding may make more sense at the beginning of one's career. Later, when one is internationally recognized as the architects we are speaking of, maybe there is really no risk in power-recognizing
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Lucio BuffalmanoTransitioned

Got it, the positive spin didn't seem very much "Bel-like", so to speak :), and now I see the point of bolding out the "founding partner".

As for your pros and cons of credit withholding, it's a fantastic question.

And to make it a fair analysis that doesn't end up necessarily pushing the "share the credit" narrative, there are indeed situations when withholding credit can be good for the selfish individual out to maximize his own returns.

I think it probably deserves its own thread though.
If you're interested in it, feel free to open one -maybe the "strategies" section is good- and happy to chip in.

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I'm starting to think this may be a mistake that affects my marketing as a lawyer:

Not wanting to be paid for little things, then (sometimes) changing my mind when a client insists to pay

Well, the title says it all.

Sometimes I feel the work I do is really not that complex, or the amount of money involved is little.

In these cases, I prefer not to ask for a fee than to ask for a small sum.

But in some of these cases, some clients insist to pay. And I sometimes changed my mind and issued invoices for small sums.

I'm thinking this may be a mistake. Because it subcommunicates being swayed by the client.

So maybe better to take a firm decision at the beginning, and then if necessary respond to these insistences for payment with something like "let's have a lunch together instead!".

On the other hand, the feeling of the client not wanting to feel indebted, as we discussed, is a serious matter. A client feeling indebted may interrupt contact for good.

I need to reflect about this.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier

Absolutely, Bel.

Here's a good power-protecting technique:

  • Offload the blame/burden to a third party

For example:

Thank you, but this is so small that it takes longer to prepare and file the invoices than doing it, so all good adn we can do lunch when you're around here instead


Yeah, it takes more time to prepare the invoice than it's worth our time.
We can do lunch when you're around here and trust that Im happier to catch up than bill this small thing 🙂

In this case, you'd offload the blame to the "admin work it takes".

Now it's not that you're being so giving and he's being so taking, it's that it's simply not worth it for you because of the admin work.
However, (good) people still appreciate you're doing it, and making them feel good about it, and are a lot more likely to think well of you, and come back.

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Thank you so much for this!

It‘s funny because it’s exactly what I was thinking as underlying motivation, but it never occurred to me that I could verbalize it!

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Lucio Buffalmano

Being given "social justice" (including: being recognized as "in the right" in case of a conflict, as well as getting an apology after an altercation) depends mostly from power dynamics considerations, and much less from the actual "content of the interaction"

As in:

The belief that "correctness of content trumps everything"

In the past, I thought that being "validated" depended on "content".

As in: if what I'm saying is "true" and/or what I'm doing is "right", and what another says/does is not, why shouldn't I receive (his and others') validation?

But that belief of mine didn't reflect my personal experience.

As an example, when I got here, I had asked any times to be treated more respectfully by people who had manipulated me.

But I was (mostly) met with more gaslighting in the past. And more manipulation.

And some other times I asked for the group support (at work, for example) in the face of serious injustices. But often, I didn't receive support.

Now, more recently:

I have been talking with some relatives for months so far, and my explicit requests for apologies, truth and respect have only been met with more gaslighting and lies.

But yesterday I had another call. And while I wasn't able to keep total composure, I implemented many of the things I learned recently, including Lucio's suggestions.

And while the call ended badly (ie my relative hung up on me, and no apology came), the outcome was unmistakable: I could feel that I had, maybe for the first time in more than a year, regained power and respect after the call.

Then it dawned on me.

The real reason why people are "socially validated": high-(social)-power

Being given "social justice" by one or more persons depends (for the most part) on whether the "wronged party" is high-power or not.

In an ideal world, if we are disrespected, we get an apology.

And if we are "right" and the other is "wrong", everybody upholds (socially) the position of the person who is in the "right".

But that's not how this world works.

In this world, social power dynamics (mostly, with limited exceptions) trump "content".

If nothing else, because content is fluid or can be made to appear fluid.

Keeping to my relatives' example:

If I am able to show to my relatives that I am a mature, high-power, socially valued, not-accepting-bullshit kind of man, I increase the probability that I will get apologies, truth and respect innumerable times. Because my relatives will feel the power dynamics, unconsciously understand that my "presence and support in their lives" is probably going to be much beneficial to them, and thus be amenable to giving me power by apologizing and respecting.

If on the other hand I am not able to show that, and I remain low-power relative to my relatives, then I substantially decrease the probability that they will recognize I was wronged. For simple social dynamics considerations: they will feel much less investment and need into giving me "justice". Because they will unconsciously feel they won't get any benefit from doing so.

Other social settings where power gains validation: all of them!

This principle can be extended to most other social settings:

At work, it doesn't really matter who's "right" and who's "wrong". Most people will support the highest-power person.

That's the real reason why "HR always supports the company against the employee".

And in a group of friends as well: in case of an altercation between two friends, the group will give its support to the higher-power person.

Simply because the group has more to lose by losing the support of the higher-power person, than by upholding "justice" by remedying an injustice.

Being given social justice

This means that:

  • the higher-power person will be able to both have injustices done to him or her remedied by the group;
  • and he or she will also be able to have (within limits) "injustices" done to others somewhat "accepted and validated" by the group, simply due to his status.


The corollary: getting an apology may depend more on whether the apologizer recognizes the "social power" of the other person, than on "justice".

Barring really "super-straight people", a person will (mostly) apologize because he or she feels that not doing so would incur a serious cost.

Take-away: to get social validation and respect, focus mostly on power dynamics, and only then on "content" 

This means that focusing on "content correctness" is not enought to gain social validation and respect: much more effective to focus on "power dynamics", as TPM and PU teach.


Now, to be true:

  • the above is a simplification, of course. Sometimes the "injustice" is so blatant that social validation will come in any case - but, in my experience, it is often the inverse: ie even in the face of blatant injustices, people often support the higher power person against all evidence;
  • "content correctness" can be very powerful. Because it indirectly showcases "power". And, I think there can come moments where "content correctness" is so fundamental, that all the "spoils" may go to the person who "saves the day", or the emergency, with content-expertise. So the two go hand in hand.
Lucio Buffalmano, Kavalier and Mats G have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierMats G

Cracking post, Bel!

I saw the previous version of it and it was equally awesome with perfectly apt quotes that I even included in the upcoming article on gaslighting -and BTW: my personal advice would to limit post edits because it doesn't help improve the reputation for "straightness". I make the same mistake by the way, but generally speaking adding is better than editing, and editing is better than removing-.

And a great description of reality as well.
Yes, content does matter, of course -everything matters-... But since content really is so blatant as, say, "the earth is flat VS the earth is round", most often and most likely, power dynamics matter (a lot) more.


A case of adding edit :).

Funny enough, we've seen it in the forum recently as well.

Until we decided to draw a strong line in the sand and put more social power dynamics behind the resolution of stopping the power moves, games,  and gaslighting, those same power moves together with false ownerships and false apologies were passing for good -including from people who saw it wasn't cool. All out of social power dynamics-.

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