Thursday, June 12, 2014

More sad-but-all-too-true definitions from CRAPCOMM

ARCHITECTURE.   All the crappy DOS programs below the glossy Surface.   The skeleton that supports the body corporate.  Commonly used with the word “open,” as in OPEN ARCHITECTURE,  a structure which is flexible enough to change at a moment’s notice and strong enough to be impervious to major and minor modifications.  The fact that this is a contradiction in terms is one that is deliberately ignored by everyone from IT programmers to executives, all of whom believe that you can add an eighth floor to a four-story walk-up without actually building floors five through seven. 

What most corporate architecture looks like.

AUTHENTIC.  The approved version of false.  An authentic conversation, for instance, consists of all the backstabbing your boss wants to hear, not the backstabbing you want to say. 

BANDWIDTH.  The current sexy term for “plate.” In the old days, when you said, “My plate is full,” your boss would say, “Okay; we’ll get somebody else to do it.”  This is because plates are only so big.  Bandwidth, on the other hand, can always be increased—and it’s your responsibility if it isn’t.  Which is why these days you don’t tell your supervisor, “I don’t have the bandwidth for that,” because this means you are not willing to work overtime and weekends to get the job done.  Also—and more importantly—the phrase, “We don’t have the bandwidth for that” can never ever (ever) be said by any CEO about his company, because it implies that the company is as old, outdated and slow as the CEO.   

BUSINESS MODEL.  The way a company says it does business, as opposed to the way it actually does business.  The corporate version of an essay outline which makes perfect logical sense, and is then totally ignored because you haven’t written a word in weeks and the stupid thing is due first thing in the morning so now you’re going to stay up all night and type like Hunter Thompson on Ibogaine until the required number of pages and/or words is met,  just so you can have something to meet the deadline.  (See DELIVERABLE.) 

CANCER RESEARCH.  Corporate term for any long-range project which can never actually be completed, because when it is, it will result in the loss of millions of dollars in funding.   

CHANGE MANAGEMENT.  Renovating the building to support the penthouse.  In essence, “asking” employees who were hired to do Job A to “transition” to Job B, usually without any training or preparation, because (a) Job A is no longer making the firm any money, (b) the people currently doing Job B are so overwhelmed with work that nothing is getting done, or (c) the barbarians are at the gates, and the only way to hold the line is to deploy as many Job B warm bodies as possible against the onslaught while the CEO goes on TV to tell worried investors that everything’s under control. 

This used to be called “restructuring,” until the word came to imply that there was something wrong with the corporate structure to begin with—an admission which can never be made publicly, but which is always discussed on a daily basis in whatever after-work bar employees gather to blow off steam.  During which marathon, somebody will make the excellent point that if an executive with actual management skills had been calling the shots from the beginning, any change would not be necessary.  And then, after a couple of rounds of tequila shots, somebody else will sum it all up with the words: “The good news is, you’re still on the boat.  The bad news is, it’s still the Titanic.” 

CORE COMPETENCY.  The one thing a person or a company does best.  The thing you hire them for.  Until all hell breaks loose.  (See CHANGE MANAGEMENT.) 

CORE INCOMPETENCY.  The many things a manager cannot do, all of which you are expected to do for him.  (See TEAM PLAYER.) 

CULTURE, CORPORATE.  The catch-all phrase which describes the many unwritten rules of behavior, status recognition, and departmental warfare which must be obeyed by all full-time employees and permatemps.  These rules are neither explained nor invoked until and unless they are broken, in much the same way as a land mine is not discovered until you step on it.  Ignorance of the unwritten law is no excuse.  Whatever you did to get the stink-eye or the awkward silence, you should have known enough not to do it.  If you’re lucky,  someone will take you aside and inform you that you just spit in church by saying something like “Just so you know,” “A word to the wise,” and “In case you were wondering.”  Like fortune cookies which always attain their true meaning by adding the words “in bed,” the above three reminders achieve their true passive-aggressive brilliance by sub-vocally adding the words “you moron.”    

The word “culture” is also used in public relations as a loose synonym for “the really cool way we do business,” which makes it a verbal prophylactic to prevent the unwanted children of all business relationships, namely accusations of greed.  So you will hear a lot of talk about a company’s CULTURE OF EXCELLENCE (which means not doing things in the best way, just the best way we know how), its CULTURE OF COMPLIANCE (which means obeying every law the company has previously broken), its CULTURE OF RESPONSIBILITY (which means firing support staff whenever a manager makes a mistake), and its CULTURE OF TOLERANCE (which means not pointing to the gay albino in the wheelchair and saying “Look at that gay albino in the wheelchair!”). 

CULTURE CARRIERS.  Old people we haven’t gotten around to firing yet. 

JOB SECURITY.  Obsolete term for an employee’s belief that doing a single job and performing up to and beyond expectations will guarantee her a seat at the corporate table until she decides to retire.  The current term for this belief is “living in a dream world.”   

QUALITY CONTROL.  Making sure that everything shares the same low standards.

TALENT.  Wage slaves who can be monetized.   

TALENT, RETENTION OF.  Patting your wage slaves on the back for a job well done by compensating them with something other than money, and then claiming that whatever you’re giving them is more valuable than money, which helps to support the myth that there is actually something more valuable than money.   

TRANSPARENCY.  Making sure that all the profit-making loopholes are invisible to outside auditors and easily accessible to internal analysts.   

TRANSPARENCY, CREATE.  Regulatory sleight-of-hand. An investment bank will use the phrase “ create transparency” the same way a stage magician uses the phrase “Nothing up my sleeve.” 

UPGRADE.  Improve to failure.
ZERO TOLERANCE.  A policy which is applied without exception to everyone in the firm who is not an exception.  Saying a company has zero tolerance for sexual harassment, shady business practices, and anything that damages its reputation is like the NBA saying that it will always call a player for traveling—in both cases, the franchise players are exempt from the rule.  This is also pretty much how the Justice Department deals with investment banks in this country: they have zero tolerance for everything that everybody else does.  If Moses had come down from the mountain with the Commandments of Corporate America, there would only have been one of them: “Thou shalt never fail to produce results, because results always trump morality.”

Copyright 2014 Matthew J Wells

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