Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The time for re-organization is soon here. Have you ever wondered why the major corporate reorgs are happening?

Typically there's a major change around Christmas and an adjustment in June.

To me they have always been a mystery, even if I sometimes am instrumental to bring them about.

Often reasons like simplification or effectivization are used.

For who I wonder.

I'm sure most of you still do the same thing now compared to last year.

And VP is still doing his/her stuff.

I suspect it's easier to reorganize than to explain what to do, because it buys time.

So having excluded the impossible only the probale remains.

It's Corporate BS.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Matrix fix

I guess most of you have come across matrix organizations in some shape or form.

They're considered the modern way of doing things.

You like them?

No, I thought not.

One of the purposes is to make the company more agile and susceptible to change.

To me it seems more like a very complex way to avoid getting decisions made. And having more VPs of course.

To get some action you instead deploy "high performance teams" or "tiger teams" giving people titles like "captain". A bit silly perhaps, but they actually get the job done and the teams seem to enjoy the work.

Here's the twist. These teams are based on police or military principles. And the army isn't exactly matrixed, is it.

So hopefully the matrix will be be remembered as a movie only. Or maybe Uderzo should invent a square character Matrix in the Asterix comic.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Experienced BS

Leadership meeting on staff reduction (actually the Corporate BS term headcount was used).
HR VP saying: "we need to make sure that people get a positive downsizing experience".

Stunning! Not only are we firing people. We're going to make people smile in the process.

I guess VP is not so decent on the descent.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Space of mind

Today I personally created a Corporate Bullshit phrase that very well could turn out to be classic.

But first some word definitions.

Occupy = take over somebody's place in a hostile way.

Mind = a person's very private place used for thinking.

Customer = person.

Space = nothing.

OK, hold on tight. This is what I told a sales person after he told me we wouldn't win a deal:

"We haven't occupied the right place in the customer's mind".

I could've said that he's not thinking about us. But why use plain words that mean something?


Monday, October 8, 2007

Winning argument?

So, I've spent yet another day at a major industry event. Millions of [insert currency] spent on grand booth designs and ugly ties.
The prime argument for being here is to meet intimately with customers.

Hmmm, To examine the investment I did some math.

70% of the delegates are competing with my company.

50% of the exhibitors have almost exactly the same slogans as the other 50%.

100% of the companies are meeting with 100% of the customers.

0% of the presentations contain any surprises.

Yet, I signed off on our participation, knowing this beforehand.

The argument used? "Everybody is going there! We'll look like loosers if we don't do it".

To be exact, it was my argument. Told you, I'm av VP.

I'm not sure how compelling that was.

It kind of reminds me about when I, as a kid, asked my mother about going somewhere knowing she would say no. My argument was: "but mom, everyone's going!"

I was a bit surprised when it turned out only I got permission to go.

I didn't exactly look like a winner.

Deciphering dress codes

There are few things that confuse people more than dress codes. More precisely, there are two kinds of codes that reek corporate BS.

Dress codes are supposed to do things like creating identity, recognition or a certain style. So you wear uniforms, business suits or silly hats. You always have the choice to like it or not but for the most part there is a sound purpose for the defined dress code.

However, there is Business Casual. What's up with that? Does anyone know what that really means? No, and that's exactly the point. When VP doesn't know the social intricacies in a given situation he leaves it up to you to decide. Giving you ample chance to do a faux-pas.

Is blue jeans business casual? Probably not. But black jeans most likely are. Or at an international event, what are the exact rules then? What's business casual in Burkina Fasso?

Secondly you have the real red herring: VP announcing that the company has no dress code at all.

Ha, not true. It simply means that you should've known better when you come to work under-dressed. It means that you will have to earn your place in the team by conforming to unwritten rules that are only communicated by frowning if you break them. That's mean!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Burger BS

So I had had my Sunday brunch at a burger bar. It's fairly well known chain. A golden letter as logotype and a clown as mascot.

On the tray-zine they claim the following with pride: "30% of our staff, including managers, have foregin origins. 95 countries are represented. This makes our service better"

Well, on the surface this looks pretty good, doesn't it. The good corporate citizen offering a diverse workplace.

But it's corporate BS!

Working for a hamburger bar isn't a qualified job. I refuse to admit, belive and accept that people not born in my country can't do better than flipping burgers.

And saying that service is dependent on your background??? Dangerous ground.

The truth is that this is an under-paid and unqualified job and the only option available for many people. Even if the burger chain in question claims it's a career item on your resume. Duh!

I would be impressed if, say, a doctor's practice made the same claim.

Admittedly, as a VP I frequently use stats to reinforce my point as you will see further down the road. But I'm trying not to leave glaringly gaping holes in my logic.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Weekend chores

I was promised by a VP collegue that he would "work over the weekend" on something. So I called him today about some details. No reply.

Then I remembered. He told me earlier in the week that he would be in Munich.

He's not doing his chores in Munich in October! He's downing masses of beer (pun for those who know German).

So he did a Corporate BS trick on me and I believed him. I guess nobody's perfect.

"Working over the weekend" means "I'm not going to bother until Monday".

Unless of course VP tells you to work over the weekend. Then it means you're working over the weekend.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Penn & Teller rip-off

Two days into my blogging career I'm accused of intellectual property theft. Someone suggested that all I'm doing is a Penn & Teller rip-off.


One - they're artists, I have a real job. VP, remember?

Two - I never ever generalize!

Nothing magical about that.


So, Siemens , the German telecoms equipment provider was sentenced to pay a €201m fine for bribery. Read the article here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/160aa23a-72ad-11dc-b7ff-0000779fd2ac.html

Are you really surprised? Corporations are run by people and people do bad things. What's the big news?

Actually you can trust people a little more because most have a conscience.

Hmm, leads me to believe that som VPs might not be human. At least not humane.

Corporate Values

This is so popular nowadays.

VP trying to establish (fairly general) corporate values and trying to make the staff gather around them to create a sense of common understanding and beliefs.

OK, so things like Customer First are going to be cloned into you DNA and your moral system?

Corporate BS!

Whatever values you chose will have different meanings for everyone. For it to work as guiding stars you really have to believe in them but the second you make your own interpretation and internalize them you have automatically created a disconnect and the point is moot.

Budget time

We're heading towards Christmas. Ooops, sorry, the Holiday season is approaching. But before that it's the feast of budgeting.

Do you believe any of your planning and thinking ends up in the corporate budgets? Of course not.

Truth is that most budgets equal whatever you did this year plus 10% revenue minus 10% cost. Giver or take some percentage points. God forbid any new investments if you're out in the field.

In the best case VP looks at market trend charts like this and tells you how much you need to do to keep up with competition.

Hmm, don't they always look like this? Even the year before the dot.com slump. Does anybody really look back? Hindsight is a scary thing because it means you have to analyze your mistakes. VP doesn't like that too much.

And VP really believes in charts like this:

VP will use words like "synergies" and "optimize" to push you to do more with less. OK, I guess it's a good thing as a principle to be more effective as you move forward.

But it's Corporate BS because: The bigger the gap, the higher the VP's bonus gets. And do you think VP will lose his job when you don't succeed. Maybe, but only after you lost yours.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Trusted Partner

You've all heard it. VP saying: "We're going to climb the value chain and become the trusted partner or advisor to our core customers".

Yeah right. If you've done the same thing for the past hundred or so years, chances are that you will keep doing exactly that. Your place in the food chain ain't changing.

Unless you do a corporate sex change. Which will be as painful as the real thing. For more people!

If you're really serious about it, there are no two ways about it. You must cut off what you have and get some new stuff in. Well folks, that means getting rid of people. And they aren't likely to cut themselves off. Especially not the guys with titles starting with capital C.

So, if your customers aren't taking your advice. Take a hint!

Cost Savings

So you're suffering from cost containment? No discretionary spending allowed unless it has a direct impact on this quarter's revenue? No travel unless it's a customer meeting? Absolutely no training or education? No social events? Boring?

And your VP has to approve everything!

Guess what. As a VP I can make anything into a customer meeting, fly where ever I want (even business class), go to any conference I'd like and treat anyone to dinner with all extras.

But I will not approve your expense report for those ten beers you and your team shared after successfully completing a project.

That's Corporate BS!

I don't get it. Why the approval hysteria? Tell people how much they can spend and leave it at that. If they spend more they should be in trouble. If they're under budget, let them have that beer.

And I won't have to get like 100 requests for approval per day.