Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Jury's back!

Originally I intended to post a silly conversation I had with my boss where his final argument for not doing something was "I'm your boss, that's why!". And by that showing that VP and his boss P behave like children when nobody's looking.

However, it now seems the jury came back with a verdict regarding my job.

I get to keep it and my boss probably is not going to be around.

Bummer, I was looking forward to that severance package ..... Come to think about it, keeping the power position is OK too ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Personal winning dressed in corporate bullshit

How many times haven't we seen e-mails being cascaded to all employees with content similar to this: "So and so has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. We wish him/her success in his/her future endeavours"

Now, this may just be a sincere wish from VP. Or .... it's Corporate BS. It all depends a little on how it is framed.

Let's say that the e-mail also has an overview of the recent re-org. Then the non-bullshit version of the e-mail should read: "We competed. I won! So and so lost and is fired".

Or the context is general downsizing. Then of course the non-bullshit version is: "So and so cost too much and does too little, so he's fired".

I'm sure you can come up with more scenarios.

The bottom line is that the sender always comes out on top which is the whole purpose in the first place. Even in the unlikely case of a sincere wish from VP.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The 1 hour manager

Why is it that all meetings and conference calls are scheduled to go on for one hour?

Where did all the twenty or forty minute meetings go?

I know it's Parkinson's law that makes us fill the the time scheduled. But which law governs our scheduling?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Alpha male e-mail fencing

Some things just speak for themselves. Below you see an edited chain of e-mails that just reek of testosterone.

The actors are VP1, VP2 and VP3 (plus the usual cc: audience). Guess which one is me.

The subject concerns all three but they head up different divisions. Note the use of cc: and the time. In real life everyone could see the e-mail history.

From: VP1
To: Team of VP1
cc: VP2;VP3
Subject: Something that concerns us
Time: 11:20 pm

Team, I just want to inform you that we now have the funding to go ahead with XYZ. Please go ahead and execute as planned.


Replies VP2 in a seemingly innocent tone:

From: VP2
To: VP1
cc: Team of VP1;VP3
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us

Time: 11.30 pm

Can you please share the details as you progress.


Enters VP3:

From: VP3
To: VP1
cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 11.45 pm

I don't approve of this. How come I was not informed. It's the wrong approach and is basically a waste of money. It's not planned properly and I ask you to stop all further activities!!!

VP3 (From my Blackberry)

Replies VP1 patiently:

From: VP1
To: VP3
cc: VP2
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us

Time: 12 pm

I'm surprised to hear that you haven't heard of this. It was in the plan document that we reviewed two months ago and which you approved.

We're just executing that plan.

If you have further questions don't hesitate to call me.


Replies VP3 going for the kill:

From: VP3
To: VP1
cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us

Time: 12.15 pm

it's not your call to decide on this. I have said that I don't approve and that's it. Stop further actions immediately.

Interacts VP2, making a reference to his earlier reply (50 minutes ago!), insinuating that VP1 hasn't delivered to his promise. And re-invents himself as a a player in the approval chain.

From: VP2
To: VP1, VP3
cc: Team of VP1;Team of VP2; CEO, CTO, CFO, CMO
Subject: Re: Something that concerns us
Time: 12.17 pm

I haven't received the details I asked for yet. Please send so I can have an informed view. I'm not going to approve until I know more.


So now VP1 is caught in a snag. The other two VPs who approved a plan just two months ago are now aiming for his throat.

It continues for another couple of hours and it gets a lot nastier. I leave it up to you to do the analysis of the hidden agendas.

This is not an atypical event in my daily routine.

So who am I? Well, I'm not VP1.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Small Person Behaviour

I'm not saying that a small brain is a prerequisite for making a corporate career, that would be shooting my self in the foot. But, observing some of my VP colleagues I cannot stop wondering what piece they're missing.

It's not that they're unintelligent. I most cases their IQ would be worthy of a chess grand master.

It's not that they're socially dysfunctional. Hmm, well at least not completely. Most VPs don't look very becoming in jeans for instance. Don't know why ...

But when cornered and in times of change, the majority of senior managers show off the same three features:

  • Complete lack of coherent communication. For example, the only information you can expect to get is what you already knew. The reason is simple: they think that if you tell the truth people will obstruct, which we all know is nonsense. I admit I do the same thing, it has become an automatic behaviour. If you haven't said anything you become less vulnerable. And complaints about lack of communication only show up in employee surveys a year later. And we all know about how seriously they are taken.
  • Blaming others. Especially other VPs and their organizations. It's very much like a beauty contest with only ugly people. You need to make the others look uglier. It's fascinating how things can go from good to bad in just one day. Just to give you a flavour, I got an e-mail from a VP praising my organization dated one day before a complete slashing. The interesting thing is that the praise was given to me privately but the slashing had a larger audience. Which brings me to the next point.
  • cc:lists from hell. Oh, the wonders of cc:lists! Not only do all cc:mail clutter up your mailbox with things you don't want to know about. cc: is a lethal weapon! A very common tactic to get an upper hand is to criticize someone putting some of the officers of the company on copy. It creates the illusion that a problem has been around for a while and is now being escalated. Not only that, you can't respond without appearing to be defensive and cluttering up the mailbox of others. So the initiator has shown the rest of the company that he's taking responsibility to set things straight. And you get blamed for inactivity, lack of quality, etc without the means to retaliate.

Trying to appear bigger than you are is the nucleus of the small person behaviour syndrome, in short Small Person BS. The result of their actions is always Corporate BS.

But it is actually worse. Your future is decided when VP is in this state of mind.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Back in Business (?)

So I had to spend some time saving my job. Hence the quietness.

Quite an interesting exercise in human bad behaviour. Not so much on my part (I hope) but referencing to my earlier post on re-orgs (http://corporatebullshitwiper.blogspot.com/2007/10/reorgs.html) I've endured some serious Corporate BS during the past couple of weeks.

For the moment I'll just give you the menu of topics to be covered in posts to come

  • Small person behaviour: Not in the sense of people being small but having seriously small brains attached to an oversize ego
  • Alpha male e-mail fencing: You'd be surprised of the level of testosterone that can be stored in an e-mail.
  • Personal winning dressed in Corporate BS: Ever wondered what it means when VP writes a note like this: "X has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. We wish him luck in his future endeavours"?
  • "I'm your boss!": Hmm, I knew that already. What does VP want?
  • Strategy: The art of doing the same damned thing again
  • Synergies revisited: Is it really that brilliant to follow a two year old plan?

So did I save my job? The jury is still out. Well at least I hope there is a jury.

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.