Thursday 30 November 2017

Pseudo-Intellectual Business

I’ve just discovered a link between two things I love to rant about. Actually I’m kicking myself for not spotting it before. The more I think about it, the more obvious it is.

The link I have made is this: People who use Business Bullshit are in fact a breed of pseudo-intellectual.

Regular readers will know that I love to bait pseudo-intellectuals and expose them for what they are – bullshit merchants who know several big words and like to quote philosophy in order to make themselves  appear better than everybody else. The truth is, of course, that they blind people with their vocabulary because ultimately they don’t actually say anything that makes any sense.

My favourite pseudo-intellectuals are people who stand in front of vomit stains in contemporary art museums and try to impress upon anybody who is willing to lend an ear that the piece of shit in front of them is something more than the shallow mess it actually is.

Another breed is the hipster who dresses like a nerd just to be different and “writes random poetry to express himself”, poetry that is truly awful and meaningless, I hasten to add.

It’s no real leap of logic to discover that a new breed of pseudo-intellectual lives in the upper echelons of high management and bombards his staff with weird business argon that nobody understands, and that his peers pretend to understand.

I am disappointed with myself because this type of pseudo-intellectual has been with me my entire working life. I have found myself in meetings with people from various companies, all trying to impress upon everybody else how important and intelligent they are,  while speaking utter jibberish to bamboozle us all.

In their eyes, their peers are thinking “Wow! This guy really knows what he is talking about. We must do business with him.”

The truth is rather sad. People actually think “What in the name of all that is Holy is this ballbag talking about? It makes no bloody sense.”

Such verbal diarrhoea is responsible for many a rant from yours truly but, more importantly, inspired Scott Adams, then a disgruntled employee, to create the now massively famous Dilbert cartoon series.

At this point, I have to add that some of my work colleagues have said in the past that I bear a striking resemblance to Dilbert – judge for yourself.

Plastic Mancunian

I have never met Scott Adams so their theory is nonsense.

Anyway, here are a couple of typical Dilbert cartoons that illustrate the point.

The idea of setting up a buzzword bingo card has appealed to me for years but the problem is that business bullshit is an evolving beast with new terms popping out of the bull with alarming frequency.  This means that lowly employees like me would have to keep on top of these new terms and this is a full time job that I don’t have time to pursue.

Here are a few new ones:

“I want to jump on your radar!”

“Thought leaders”

“Idea sherpa”

“Punch a puppy”

“Thought shower”

These are terms that make me want to cringe with embarrassment.

Many years ago, there was a comedy show called Drop the Dead Donkey in the UK that had a character called Gus Hedges who basically used bullshit to communicate with his staff. Some of the terms he used were laughable – and now over 20 years later, the terms he used actually sound more believable.

Here are some of his best lines:

“We've got to downsize our sloppiness overload, Joy. Am I making myself clear?”

“There is just something I'd like to pop into your percolator, see if it comes out brown.”

“I'm setting you free. Free to roam the high seas of enterprise as the buccaneers of our broadcasting future.”

“I'm in major cellular rejuvenation mode, fast-tracking my way to eternal biological viability.”

“I think we have a slight togetherness shortfall here.”

“You see, when it comes to sexual interfacing with the female gender group, I've always been caution-orientated due to ongoing problems of an adaptive nature regarding the gooiness factor on the physical front.”

“Jill, could you come for a brief scuba in my think tank?”

“We're merely running our bulletins through the cappuccino machine of innovation, see if it comes out frothy.”

“Just a thought I wanted to pop into your fishbowl to see if it blows bubbles.”

“Problems are just the pregnant mothers of solutions.”

The good thing about Gus Hedges is that he is totally fictional. Sadly, there thousands upon  thousands of pseudo-intellectual managers who seem to have adopted him as a role model. Some pseudo–intellectuals like to quote philosophers; other like to quote Gus Hedges.

To conclude, I found a business bullshit generator that may act as inspiration for any pseudo-intellectuals desperate to climb the corporate ladder with no talent other than their use of meaningless vocabulary.

Here’s a couple I generated:

Synergistically streamline enterprise-wide collaboration and idea-sharing

Compellingly envisioneer standardized "outside the box" thinking

Uniquely reinvent sticky vortals

Have a go yourself – follow this link.

Sunday 12 November 2017

Look What I Found In My Head

Every day at work, I leave my desk at lunchtime, armed with my smartphone and my iPod and set off on a circular walk of just over two miles. My aim is fourfold:

(1) Get a little exercise.

(2) Escape the confines of the office.

(3) Enjoy some music.

(4) Clear my head.

I want to focus on item (4).

As I stroll around the streets, my mind wanders, replacing the inevitable stress and tedium of office work with a journey through my own imagination, accompanied by a musical soundtrack of songs that I love.

And that journey is usually quite fruitful.

The experience feels like I am in a room with thousands of doors. The journey begins when I open one of the doors and go through. The choice of door depends on my mood, the music I am listening to, the day I have had so far and random thoughts that have popped into my head based on conversations, news – anything really.

Ultimately I hope to find something interesting – like this idea for a blog post for example.

I am fascinated by the train of thought that eventually leads to the gems I find inside my own head. Sometimes they are good things but occasionally they are not do good. For example, if I am in a bad mood, or a little depressed about something, I find that sometimes it is difficult to drag myself from a negative path. In that respect I understand how depressed people think – I know this first hand because Mrs PM is prone to depression and in these situations it is difficult if not impossible to escape the irrational downward spiral that follows.

Happily, I have experience of seeing this is other people and can assist, if only to be the person who comforts them or to be a shoulder to cry on, so to speak. Of course, it is not as simple as that and, thankfully, Mrs PM is in control of it.

I don’t suffer from depression myself but if a negative thought threatens to enter my head and cause a negative cycle, I switch my mind to something that will distract it – like changing the song on my iPod of taking a moment to look around as I walk. This helps usually; rather like leaving the bad door alone and finding another more interesting one to go through. It doesn’t always work – and I have struggled sometimes in 2017 to be fair – but things are improving.

Sometimes, exploring my imagination can cause embarrassment. Here are a couple of examples.

Picture the scene. I am walking along oblivious to my surroundings and listening to a fantastic and happy song - a song such as this:

I find myself walking in step to the beat and imagine myself as the artist. The problem is that my step becomes jaunty and bouncy and on a couple of occasion I have actually started mouthing the words. If I have my headphones in, I can’t actually tell whether I am actually singing – I might be. In which case, it’s no surprise that I have acquired a few strange looks by people queuing up at a bus stop I have walked past.

On other occasions, a song has reminded me of a funny incident in the past caused an involuntary guffaw that is difficult to control and fuels yet more laughter, making me look like some kind of idiot marching along the streets.

Also, if I see somebody I know as I walk, I try to be polite and greet them as we pass. However, because of my headphones, it is more difficult to judge volume.

“Hi Dave,” they will say as we approach!

“HI ANDY,” I bellow at the top of my voice, in an attempt to drown out both the heavy metal song in my ears and the noise of cars, lorries and buses roaring past on the main road.

When I get back to work, I face the inevitable consequences.

“Why were you yelling at me in the street, Dave?”

Thankfully, this doesn’t happen very often and my walks are uneventful to watch.  The good news for me is that I have around 10,000 novel ideas as a result of my lunchtime walks. The bad news is that when I get back to work, I never write them down because the moment I sit back down at my desk, the shit hits the fan and I am plunged back into the abyss of the rat race before I have the time to write down a paragraph about invisible mutant aliens turning people into slaves.

However, I am certainly more relaxed and, for an hour or so at least, I find myself going about the daily grind with a smile on my face and a more relaxed approach to work.

I recommend you try it, dear reader. Once a day, grab hold of your own musical device and walk around the streets of your town or city for half an hour or so. Take off the chains of your imagination, walk through an interesting door and see where it leads you.

In almost all cases you will be amazed.

And for any Mancunians out there, if you see a greying blond nutcase singing or laughing as he walks – it might just be me.

Feel free to say “Hi Dave!” – I will try not to yell back at you.