GBAT: Score High and Cry

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Due to the overwhelming response to my article about bozosity, I’ve created the GBAT (Guy’s Bozofication Aptitude Test). It is a compilation of the best indicators of whether a company is sliding into bozosity. I’ve included the names of the people who came up with some of these ideas. In some cases, I took their idea and altered it for my use.

Please feel free to apply this test to your company and post the score and company name–anonymously, of course–in the comments area. Here is a PDF of the test in case you want to print it or forward it–just click on it to download.


Add one point for each

1. The two most popular words in your company are “partner” and “strategic.” In addition, “partner” has become a verb, and “strategic” is used to describe decisions and activities that don’t make sense.

2. Management has two-day offsites at places like the Ritz Carlton to foster communication and to craft a company mission statement.

3. The aforementioned company mission statement contains more than twenty words–two of which are “partner” and “strategic.”

4. Your CEO’s admin has an admin.

5. Your parking lot’s “biorhythm” looks like this:

* 8:00 am – 10:00 am–Japanese cars exceed German cars
* 10:00 am – 5:00 pm–German cars exceed Japanese cars
* 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm–Japanese cars exceed German cars

6. Your HR department requires an MBA degree for any position; it also requires five to ten years work experience in an industry that is only four years old.

7. Time is now considered more important than money so you have a company cafeteria, health club, and pet grooming service. Moreover, the first thing that employees show visitors is the company cafeteria, health club, and pet grooming service.

8. Someone whose music sells in the iTunes store performs at the company Christmas party.

9. An employee is paid to do nothing but write a blog.

10. Some employees read this blog to find out what’s happening in the company.

11. The success of a competitor upsets you more than the loss of a customer.

12. Your middle managers all worked at big-name consumer goods companies. Zoli Erdo

13. You hire a big-name consulting firm who brings in MBAs with one year of experience to re-think your corporate strategies.

14. Your company likes some of these MBAs and hires them away from the big-name consulting firm.

15. The front-desk staff gets better looking and less competent. Jeff Barson

16. The only time you see your CEO is when you’re watching CNBC. Laurie Sefton

17. You watch CNBC during the day and don’t feel guilty.

18. The ratio of engineers to attorneys dips below 25 to 1. Margherite

19. The company has created a “company values” poster. George

20. “Leveraging core competencies” and “maximizing shareholder value” show up in official documents, in the same paragraph. Rick Krutina

21. New executives campaign to improve the product before they understand how to use it. Bill Liao

22. Your company outsources its mission statement. pUnk

23. Your CEO’s chair is more expensive than your first car. JoeC

24. You have more than two execs with the word “chief” in their title. Gautam

25. The company becomes a schwag fountain: pens, bags, notepads, messenger bags. Hadley Stern

Add two points for each

26. Your CEO writes a book.

27. Your CEO gets invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos where he gives advice to the presidents of Eastern European countries.

28. Your company has a corporate jet.

29. Your company hired a retired professional athlete as a motivational speaker.

30. Your company hired a retired politician as a motivational speaker

The highest possible score is 35 points. God help you…

By | 2016-10-24T14:28:27+00:00 February 28th, 2006|Categories: Uncategorized|54 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Todd March 1, 2006 at 12:34 am - Reply

    Right now I have only scored 4 points. I work for a really small company.

  2. Rolphus March 1, 2006 at 2:10 am - Reply

    The place I work for has about 120 employees and a very healthy turnover (a significant proportion of which is profit). We’re admittedly not massively engineering-driven – 12 months ago there were no IT staff, and I now run the department which is 3-strong. We’ve been running for over 10 years, and while the MD does drive a very nice car, he sits in the same area as everyone else, uses the same desks, the same chairs, and has the same space problems we do.
    I scored a big fat zero on this test. He’s a good guy to work for.

  3. Robert Scoble March 1, 2006 at 2:38 am - Reply

    According to my count Microsoft scores 11. I’m not gonna tell you which ones, though. 🙂
    You should have added more from my list, though, cause then the bozosity factor would have gone up a bit.

  4. Gautam March 1, 2006 at 3:12 am - Reply

    I wonder where a company like McKinsey or BCG would score on the “bozo” score…?

  5. JC March 1, 2006 at 5:21 am - Reply

    #23 is hugely unfair.
    My first car cost $400.

  6. Jonas Antonsson - Taking on the world March 1, 2006 at 5:38 am - Reply

    Are You Heading Towards a Bozo Explosion?

    Guy Kawasakirecently posted an article titled “How to Prevent a Bozo Explosion”. The article explains…

  7. Mike March 1, 2006 at 6:50 am - Reply

    I think #9 is unfair. As a blogger, I’d have thought you’d be in favor of a company having a blogger on staff.
    Instead of a PR person, why not hire a Pro blogger and get the job done better, faster and more efficiently ?
    BTW – we did not make it to bozo status.
    Anybody need a Pro blogger ?

  8. Joe March 1, 2006 at 6:52 am - Reply

    “18. The ratio of engineers to attorneys dips below 25 to 1.”
    That proves that USA is insane. In Europe less than 100 to 1 would be bozo. 🙂

  9. Randy March 1, 2006 at 7:32 am - Reply

    5. Your parking lot’s “biorhythm” looks like this:
    * 8:00 am – 10:00 am–Japanese cars exceed German cars
    * 10:00 am – 5:00 pm–German cars exceed Japanese cars
    * 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm–Japanese cars exceed German cars
    The executive lot is under the building, everyone else walks from outer lots…

  10. Derek March 1, 2006 at 8:49 am - Reply

    My advise for anyone working at a company with any significant score on this test? Leave. Immediately. These companies are aggravating to work for, and often fail altogether. Who wants to put three years of their life into something that’s not going to exist a couple years later. The economy is back (at least for the moment), there are other jobs to be had; go find something less life draining.
    Oh, and on the article: I’d probably have made the attributions in a different color or smaller font size–to make it easier to read the questions.

  11. darkmoon March 1, 2006 at 9:38 am - Reply

    @JC: And your CEO’s chair cost more than $400? Dang. That chair must come with servants to feed you grapes or something.
    From what I know about Moto, We scored 7. Course, I’m not at the any of the main campuses so it could be worse.

  12. Matthew Wilder March 1, 2006 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Yeah, I don’t like #9. I work in a large company of 25,000 employees. It’s not as though we are connected through some sort of psychic link or collective. I think my company would benefit from blogging style communication between departments. So, while we don’t have bloggers, if we did I would want them to be internal blogs.

  13. Audiolathe March 1, 2006 at 10:53 am - Reply

    On my count LEGO scores only three – which can only be a good thing. On blogs – our CEO writes one occasionally, sharing his thoughts on important topics the company faces, which anyone can comment on – this in conjunction with meeting and greeting many of us in person, regardless of position or stature. So yes, blogs can be part of a greater strategy of being more accessible as a leader.

  14. Digital Digressions March 1, 2006 at 11:42 am - Reply

    How to be a CEO and remain human

    Inspired by Guy’s latest post on a point-scoring system to determine whether your company is suffering from Bozo-explosion or not, I thought I’d share with you some thoughts on what in my opinion makes a leader worth following. CEOs often behave like a…

  15. Imran Anwar March 1, 2006 at 11:59 am - Reply

    – Your company takes out full page ads showing “before/after” scenarios for their software at work… and the two halves are the same.
    – Top 3 people in your company make ONE BILLION in BONUSES for ONE YEAR, on cooked books, but later say they had NO idea.
    – Your NEW management comes in to build trust with employees, and immediately builds a separate executive dining room.
    We all know so many companies like that.

  16. Shaun Fanning March 1, 2006 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    It’s frightening how accurate your bozosity test really is. Is there an inverse to your bozosity test? Here are 10 signs I would say are good indicators that your company is in good shape to fend off bozosity. Would love to hear your version.
    1) You don’t have an HR department.
    2) You have an HR department but it consists of an exceptionally charming person who is a master at disarming job candidates and getting them to casually admit that half of their resume was a lie.
    3) You rarely get work done in meetings. Most of the time things get done by popping into someone’s office for an impromptu chat.
    4) You can’t remember the last time anyone wrote an actual memo
    5) Most people who get hired are referred by someone who knows someone at your company
    6) There are no “rules” posted on your intranet.
    7) Your IT department consists of a few insanely smart geeks who would rather play World of Warcraft than develop policy guidelines.
    8) Your CEO writes his or her own powerpoint presentations (on his or her computer)
    9) You don’t do formal performance reviews
    10) You have actually fired people for poor performance

  17. john March 1, 2006 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    I think that “your company hires a motivational speaker” is alone sufficient.

  18. Brad Hutchings March 1, 2006 at 1:15 pm - Reply

    LEGO-guy… your company gets a +15 bonus for being Danish this year! j/k
    Nice pic Guy. And I wish this test were start with 35 and subtract a point, so we could compare our results with Vince Young’s Wonderlic score.

  19. Doug Hanna March 1, 2006 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    We have more than two execs with the word chief (CEO, COO, CTO), but that’s it. 😛

  20. John March 1, 2006 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Hmmm … I work for a very large company, and I don’t even know such things about the CEO. Oh, but the company *does* have a core values poster (a set of them, actually), a corporate jet, and I hear words like “partner” and “strategic” all the time.
    Perhaps large companies are bozostuous by definition. (No, I do not work for IBM. It just looks that way, sometimes.)

  21. NomadX March 1, 2006 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    One more (prompted by watching your keynote speech at UCLA). This one is about conferences and public events:
    3-4 people present before the Keynote speaker, the sole purpose of each being introducing the next guy..

  22. PayPalian March 1, 2006 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    eBay = 14 points, plus have *2* corporate jets at 2pts each for a total of 18. Whoo hoo!

  23. Adventure of Strategy March 2, 2006 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Preventing a Bozo Explosion : The GBAT Test

    If there was ever “thirty points you need to know rather than go do an MBA” then this post from Guy Kawasaki about covers it. Not restricted to professional service firms, either. I particularly liked points 2 and 3,…

  24. Angsuman Chakraborty March 2, 2006 at 1:02 am - Reply

    Almost any big company should score high on this test.
    I would be surprised to see any Fortune 500 company scoring less than 10.
    Brad> 1) You don’t have an HR department. +++
    I second that.

  25. Michael Lehmkuhl March 2, 2006 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Guy, your observations were so inspiring that we wrote a quick tool to help your readers calculate their GBAT scores online.
    By the way, Electric Pulp’s present GBAT hovers around 3 and the tool was created on a Mac.

  26. albedo20 March 2, 2006 at 7:52 am - Reply

    Very funny. But “partner” is a verb as well as a noun, at least according to Merriam-Webster. That’s not to say that lots of nouns don’t get used as verbs in the workplace. “Transition” comes to mind.

  27. Ronny Max March 2, 2006 at 7:55 am - Reply

    one more point: when all employees dress, walk, talk, and look the same.
    Reminds me of Arthur Anderson and IBM people back in early 1990s…

  28. kirsten March 2, 2006 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Kinda disturbing that just 1 of the many, many comments to your post here is from a woman (ronny).
    Sheds new light on Amira’s 2005 blog post: “Bright women are making a mark, yet bozos are still ruling the roost”
    wink-wink, nod-nod. you know i put you on a pedestal, guy. 😉

  29. Guy Kawasaki March 2, 2006 at 11:23 am - Reply

    I’d rather be on a pedestal than on a roost. 🙂

  30. Leo auf dem BORG March 2, 2006 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Any company that uses ‘MashUp’ for anything other than the music genre should be mashed for 3 points.
    I can tell you that the DJs who do the real thing are not amused:

  31. Ralph March 3, 2006 at 6:39 am - Reply

    SAS gets 13 (2 jets). It’s still privately held so many of these don’t apply.

  32. Laurie Sefton March 3, 2006 at 10:51 am - Reply

    Here’s a winner–the exec forbids office moves to “save money”, and then announces his office move–to “improve his feng shui”.
    Hey Kirsten–I may not have commented on this thread, but I’ve commented in this series. Last time I checked, there was still an “F” on the drivers license 😉

  33. Michal March 3, 2006 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    The company’s name plus the word University exist.
    For example, “Microsoft University”, “AOL University”, “Oracle University”, just to name a few …

  34. Michal March 3, 2006 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    The company has a divisition whose name is CompanyName + ” University”.
    As in “Microsoft University”, “AOL University”, “Oracle University”. Just to name a few.

  35. William Luciw March 3, 2006 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Very good test, but missing several VITAL Bozo Metrics:
    [1] If the number of company VPs exceeds the number of commodes in you main washroom, add +1 point for each VP over the commode limit.
    [2] Add +10 points if there is an executive washroom.
    [3] If the only people who show up at the Friday “Beer Bash” are the caterers, add +3 points.
    [4] If attendance for company holiday “parties” is mandatory, add +3 points.
    [5] If an outside firm is conducting an “employee attitude poll”, add +5 points.
    [6] If your company intends to build a “corporate campus” add +25 points.
    [7] If your company has already built a corporate campus, ignore the rest of this of this test because you’re screwed. Prepare your exit strategy at once!

  36. Kevin March 4, 2006 at 12:51 am - Reply

    I got 39 points… How is that possible?

  37. John C. Randolph March 4, 2006 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    Interesting. Apple’s score is zero on this scale, although it was probably close to the max during the Sculley era. Amazing what a near-death experience can do for a company.
    Incidentally, I’d consider anyone a Bozo who promotes Feng Shui and isn’t 1) Chinese and 2) over 70 years old.

  38. John C. Randolph March 4, 2006 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    There is such a thing as Pixar University, and it’s no joke. People come out of that training program better qualified for their industry than any masters’ degree program I know of.

  39. Patrick McEvoy March 6, 2006 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    This is one of the most “right on” blog posts I’ve read all year!
    I get to see this stuff in action veryday with clients and it “aon’t” pretty to be sure.
    Keep up the great new blog!
    Patrick McEvoy
    Rain Maker Best Practices
    Be Sure To Visit and Get your FREE copy of:
    “12 Secrets of Superstar Professional Service Firms”

  40. Niko Neugebauer March 7, 2006 at 9:21 am - Reply

    The company where i am working right now scored only 3 points. Its not a big enterprise, but still a recognized force on the local market. =O)

  41. What About Clients? March 8, 2006 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Fighting Bozo-osity At Your Shop.

    From ex-Apple evangelist and guru’s guru Guy Kawasaki, who gets more visits to his blog in a day than most people see in a month, these fun but serious two posts on preventing a Bozo expolsion and the Bozoification aptitude…

  42. What About Clients? March 8, 2006 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Fighting Bozo-osity At Your Shop.

    From ex-Apple evangelist and guru’s guru Guy Kawasaki, who gets more visits to his blog in a day than most people see in a month, these fun but serious two posts on preventing a Bozo expolsion and the Bozoification aptitude…

  43. Another Todd March 9, 2006 at 11:21 am - Reply

    How many points do I add if the CEO has a private jet that he leases to the company?

  44. Somebody March 11, 2006 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Ah, I remember it well. Viant, Scient, Sapient and finally, my love, Zentropy.
    I was there, I saw it happen, it’s all so.

  45. Jack Yan March 25, 2006 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Another Todd below, that’s still one point.

  46. Snag March 26, 2006 at 2:56 am - Reply

    The best of all … “If the company has replaced customer service staff with a call-centre … add 200 points”

  47. Le blog May 9, 2006 at 1:23 am - Reply

    Des liens en vrac concernant les start-ups

    Jimagine que ça concernerait plutôt Stéphane Lee, mais je suis tombé récement sur quelques liens assez intéressants concernant les bonnes pratiques de gestion des start-ups.
    Dabord avec lexemple à mon avis le plus éclatant …

  48. Sandeep Thukral June 23, 2006 at 4:01 am - Reply

    A better copy of the 35 points has been created and is available at

  49. Top female motivational speaker Rosemary The Celtic Lady October 18, 2006 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Points are an interesting yard stick however in my experience many company executives have so much fear that someone may actually make them look bad, by being brighter than them they will go out of their way to hire someone totally unsuitable.
    Before you know it you have a tier of fools ignoring the fact that the bright people in lower levels are all jumping ship.
    If the least likely candidate gets the job then start working on your resume before the ship sinks.

  50. Michael November 28, 2006 at 8:50 am - Reply

    Hi Guy,
    I just saw you speak at Pubcon in Vegas. Love the bozosity. You had me laughing my head off during the keynote. Keep up the good work.
    I have already rehashed some of your stories of bozosity and the one about the aid to help the Coast Guard find drowners.

  51. Prashant Morgaonkar December 5, 2006 at 10:55 pm - Reply

    A Senior VP reports to a Senior VP who reports to a Senior VP who reports to the CEO.

  52. Sam Horton February 13, 2007 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    How about 2 more for Bozosity…
    1) An HR department (that hasn’t been outsourced yet) that is supposed to recruit talent, and shine a great impression on their company, states when there is a need for talent… “submit your resume to our website, and I will forward it to the hiring manager.”
    and 2) 20 years after a certain company had been deregulated and now has to compete on the open market, one executive was heard to say, “Don’t they now we are ??&?, they have to do it!”
    No wonder.

  53. Betmaker May 3, 2007 at 11:35 am - Reply

    7 points but we are a small company and growing…
    Sportsbook Bonuses

  54. What About Clients? April 16, 2008 at 9:01 am - Reply

    Fighting Bozo-osity At Your Shop.

    From ex-Apple evangelist and guru’s guru Guy Kawasaki, who gets more visits to his blog in a day than most people see in a month, these fun but serious two posts on preventing a Bozo explosion and the Bozoification aptitude…

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