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The P I E theory of successful careers is not even half-baked

From a presentation at the SuperConference, someone threw out the PIE theory of career success. They credit that theory with a quantification of what contributes to an upward career trajectory. I quote from the slide:

“‘P’ for performance: it accounts for 10% of success
‘I’ for image: 30% of success
‘E’ for exposure: 60% of success.”

Call me old fashioned, but the “image” an in-house lawyer projects hardly seems three times more important for promotion and additional responsibility than the legal analyses, contract drafting, solidity of answers to legal questions, business acumen, and other marks of performance. You can quack exactly like a lawyer duck but substance, over time, gets tested the most.

As for exposure, this seems to be an ingenuous and faux quantification of the old chestnut “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Exposure to top management in a company does not in any way assure promotion for an ambitious lawyer. The more elevated the rank of the client, in fact, the tougher the demands and the higher the expectations. The air thins as you climb and you can die of exposure on the mountainside.

This P.I.E. is not worth eating – or at least this meritocratic traditionalist hopes so. Sources cited on the slide include a presentation by GE Money plus content from Alignment Strategies, a consulting firm and a book Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed, by Harvey J. Coleman (2010).

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