Good comedy, to me, has me not only laughing but nodding. I not only find it amusing but it has triggered a recognition, even if it’s one that is disguised, buried or exaggerated via satire.
One of my favourite hobbies is Spot the Bluffer. This is a person, usually in the workplace, who is good at linking together the buzz words and statistics, whipping them into a verbal froth and smothering those around them. No-one really questions exactly what they do or value they bring. And why would you, when they can easily say things like:
The entire solution is built around open standards, embracing Web 2, mulitmedia streaming, XML with an Enterprise Bus as a central object-oriented workflow engine. The rigidity of the framework offers a stable platform for immediate deployment, yet has the potential to embrace new IEEE Web Services as they are developed, to further enhance the interoperability. Overall productivity, as measured via Michelson–Morley end-to-end, vector synthesis, is expected to be 18.3%. Compounding.
The Bluffer. Homo Vacuous. The Hollowmen.
So was I nodding last night whilst watching episode one of The Hollowmen (ABC TV, Wed 9:30pm). Whilst not quite the same thing as my Bluffer concept, I reckon it’s close enough for me to get a sore neck anyway.
The repetitive catch cries, buzz and key words, the boiling down of complex problems into a few points on a white board (and hence they can be easily ticked off), the change of priorities (but not telling others). It’s all there.
A few other items of interest that I spotted in Hollowmen:
The 180 degree task flip: I once had a manager who explicitly – on the phone – told me NOT to contact Customer A and gave me 2 reasons why I shouldn’t. Some months later, during a team meeting, they asked me why I hadn’t contacted Customer A (!). And then told me off when I tried to point out their original instructions.
Paper shuffling bureaucrats. One of the great cliches of this class of person is the paper shuffling. Yet Tony, in the show, has the running gag of not having a pen. So he’s clearly not one of those :-) In fact he whips up his ideas on a whiteboard – well actually other people’s ideas – then asks them to capture them and email them to his mobile phone.
Seizing the Momentum. Sounds a great concept, grabbing the energy and manfully forcing it into a policy. But Momentum itself is actually quite an abstract thing in science. It’s a mathematical construct that is velocity multiplied by mass (weight). You can’t touch it or seize it. In fact what hurts you in a collision is not the momentum, but the change in momentum ; the impulse. So, in fact, if you could somehow quickly seize the momentum, you may very well end up in hospital.
Sparkling White Wine comedy from the Working Dog team.
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