On returning

There were two skies. One crystalline, balanced on a blade, the waterfall of light enveloping Astrid’s gaze; the other bleached, shy and aloof, a pale reflection across the smeared and rain-pocked windows of Worcester House. As her gaze ascended the copycat storeys to her own, Astrid wondered why they ever named such awkward, unhomely beasts a “house”, like calling a pitbull “poppet”. But she was back, standing as she did repetitively, unconsciously, for so many years, taking a final moment before crossing the revolving threshold, a long slow breath to straighten the nerve endings.

Yet this was the first time since the team were sent into the caffeinated wilderness to work, left to their own devices with their own devices to embroider a spirit. Curiosity had snaked her here this morning, the train as cloying as ever, the glazed gaze of sallow faces upon her. Astrid wished she was a mirror. On the street, people walked by Worcester House without so much as a glance, as though it were a collapsed drunk. The revolver was jammed, but trying the fire exit door at the rear corner of the building Astrid was surprised to find it give. She found herself in the unforgiving concrete stairway, moving against the invisible track to the seventh floor, a chill rushing through her like a thousand ghosts in a hurried evacuation.

Having been cast to the fifth wind, it had transpired to be directionless, erratic but weak – it was not so bad. Her team had moulded a routine from the vacuum, given themselves a structure to cling to, and found they had more time and far less intrusion. They spoke, but shared little. They corresponded, but with the unobtrusive warmth of pre-teen penfriends. Yet they realised that they had mostly craved time when there was none, and that in even the earliest stage the glut became a millstone. So Astrid created her own pressure, layer upon layer, until she felt the denial bite. Her gains and losses from the transaction had no exchange rate.

Astrid’s footsteps echoed, reminding her with each of her trespass. She arrived at the oversized plastic “7” with its chipped corners, and pushed against the door to the floor. Again it opened with more than expected ease. The office was a thicket of doors. There was rarely any sense in lowering the outstretched palm. A distant visitor may have wondered if humans defensively flat-handed their way through life. When two palms met, it might have been a kiss.

There, amidst the abandoned skeletal remains of the seventh, were her team, making do. Amidst the trailing workarounds, the home surplus, the trestles, eBay steals and cuddle of the smell of toast, were the easy smiles of delight that said stay. The familiarity was dusty, tardier than she recalled, but the space had been filled. It worked, but it was a different work. Her favourite spot was free, it had been left with the expectation of her return, everyone else had and they weren’t so different. There had been no doubt on anyone’s part that her heart beat as theirs. The agoraphobia had just taken a little longer to percolate.

From the window, there were two skies. One bumbled along the accidental and pockmarked horizon, a hazy and familiar outline. The other, crystalline, balanced on a blade, was where it should have been, outside, beyond. Astrid unpacked. So much to do. 

 

 

‘Bye darling, I’m off to AntiWork

You’ve done your day’s grind – it’s gone brilliantly, you nailed your to-do list, explored a few new ideas with trusted colleagues, and set up your diary for the next week. Its also possible you may be kidding yourself.

It’s a paradox of the modern, large organisation that much of what we believe to be work is – unbeknown to the performer – a total waste of time. The roots of this are complex and particular , and no-one specific is to blame, but the efficiency and purpose that is being lost to nothing more than bluster is breathtaking.

While its nauseatingly hip to stick “anti” (or “un” for that matter) in front of of something to give it ice cold credibility, this is AntiWork, and its not a Kindergarten Press badge of honour, it’s a Bad Thing – as with Andrew Koenig’s 1995 “AntiPatterns”, from the field of agile software development, a term he coined to describe defective processes and implementations within an organisation. AntiPatterms have come to have commonly-used names derived from their recognisable characteristics. So in paying respect, under the banner of AntiWork the below have each been ascribed a name. I’m sure there are many more (and I’m sure there are some overlaps):

The Rottcodd: old habits, stuff that has always been done, the meaning of which has been lost over time – like the rituals of the Hall of the Bright Carvings in “Titus Groan”. Occasionally ridiculed or derided but never challenged, living under their own energy, laughing at their own improbable immortality.

The Rochdale: dead runners, projects that don’t get the “buy-in” (yeuch) or more importantly funding (buy-out?) required, yet by the time of the opening of the trapdoor have sucked in vats of feasibility, assessment, enquiry and planning under spurious instruction, misplaced optimism or an inability to read the corporate tealeaves, all in the mistaken belief that approval is a con-cal away.

The Cameron: u-turns, scope changes that nullify or reverse everything you’ve done to date, worse when they are a reversal of a previous reversal undermining any dwindling optimism that they may go in a direction other than that above.

The Boltzmann: projects and tasks that despite you having been recruited for your expertise, track record, insight, proven ability to get stuff done (at all, and well), consultants “with credibility” are required to do all over again with additional levels of misunderstanding given their removal from the nuances of the organisation. And they get the credit, too.

The Plato: invisible duplication, where after years of ploughing your furrow you realise that an identical furrow has been ploughed at another location, like a parallel universe with similar results.

The Aesop: the institutionalised avoidance of decision making, the ever-decreasing circles of certainty required by the designated approval chain or process. A little more analysis, a few more checks, a re-run of the numbers, another opinion, a peer review, another round of sticking needles in your temples just to be absolutely certain you’ve de-risked the risks to the risks, to be damn well sure. By which time the opportunity and the enthusiasm has gone.

The Doves: corporate archaeology, the painful piecing together of lost records, where no-one had the decency to write history for the benefit of their successors, or it was just wiped from old drives without even looking for it. At least in the days of paper records files were usually visible and retained – whoever looks at a leaver’s electronic files? They are just erased with the memory of the departee.

The Lindenstrauss: reports that don’t get read other than for the executive summary, because they are unnecessary, tedious, arcane, pointless, habitual, or are necessary but the recipient just doesn’t have the time to read or process them. For all of these circumstances, the asking of the “So what?” question usually decides the matter, but that takes a little courage.

The Bob: the evaluation of new technologies, suggested to you as possible benefits in efficiency and effectiveness that actually would never work without a team of implementers on excruciating day rates that will mean you do nothing else with your time but try and make sense of the anomalies.

The Lucan: senior management directives made on the basis of too little information or unconsidered judgment that are not challenged through fear of being perceived negatively, or simply due to fear of the consequences (real or not).

The Sarajevo: getting needlessly dragged into things through the liberal and unconsidered use of the”reply all/cc”. Of course you could always leave them alone but your operating system has been tampered with so you can’t. We often blame the tool, but e-mail doesn’t send you e-mails. E-mail is not the demon it is made out to be, the problem is how it is used. It is the practice of spreading responsibility and/or involvement (back to fear again) that generates the noise you can’t ignore.

We might evaluate our day and our contribution differently with an eye to what has been useful, and what has been bluster. It may also herald a more constructive conversation about “work” if we stop lumping in every bit of huff and puff conducted between sunrise and sunset, and start looking at what makes a difference set against that which merely evaporates.

And remember, AntiWork isn’t somewhere you don’t go, its something pointless you do without either being aware of, or challenging it.

 

Who killed Mr Moonlight?

“Someone shot nostalgia in the back
Someone shot our innocence”

[Bauhaus – again]

At some point in time – now lost – our ability, and our ability to be honest about our ability, became decoupled. We have become masters like never before of over-inflating our own possible contribution, or that of others, and more worrying actually believing it. Marking our own exam papers. We have eroded to danger levels stocks of words and expressions able to hold our activities and output in proportion. We are untethered, adrfit.

We are used to people selecting cheese and onion crisps expressed and enacted as a food consumption strategy.

And we’ve loosened the nuts on the self-congratulatory myth of the era of unprecedented change in a recent post.

But every time two people are in conversation its collaboration, when for the vast majority of time they are co-operating and co-ordinating under instruction. Or heaven forbid just talking turkey. What did this collaboration output? Or was it just a damn good conversation, and you’ve agreed to keep it going?

If we have a new idea, develop a work-around, a clever new addition or modification, think of a different way to do something that we used to stuff in the Suggestions Box, its innovation. We have rooms, groups, teams, departments, job titles and awards for the honour. Obviously innovation is the output of collaboration because no-one thinks of anything on their own.

Whipping up a storm in an ergonomic task chair with a cheeky hashtag or blog post, a provocative tweet or turning a bit of #thingshavetochange attitude and its disruption. Not the annoying, confusing and unsettling type that got you lamped at school, of course, but the stuff that gives you that tingle of being naughty because you never were at school. Like stealing two kids’ masks in Breakfast at Tiffanys.

When we’re pursuing an idea that’s interesting, popping off at a tangent, considering we may have a different take on things, or breaking the mould by wearing socks of different colours (at the same time!) we’re game-changing. Even though its exactly the same game, the same metaphors, all in the safety and security of the boundary fence.

When we’re incrementally developing a thought, idea, product, it’s now a revolution. Let’s just check – is anyone on the streets, has power changed hands, systems been overthrown, institutions come crashing down, are we re-evaluating everything we ever held to be true?

And the stupidity loses control even of itself and we end up with… a “mind grenade” as insight (I have Jane Watson to thank for this gem). Just dwell on the irony in that for a moment.

Ideas, work-arounds, incremental development, healthy provocation, working together, they’re all vital to progress. That’s not enough in this age of sensation though, is it? If you’re not collaborating, innovating, disrupting, game-changing and revolting, you’re just a reactionary old fart by default. That’s me then.

The difficulty with that proposition is that having dragged every one of these terms from their rarity and lustre into the mediocrity of the mainstream, made them so accessible that we’re in the zone just as soon as we are out of our pyjamas – sometimes even before, given the “home-working revolution” – we’ve exhausted and nullified all perspective, lost the reference points for our thought and actions. We are untethered, adrift. Its time we listened to ourselves. Its time we grew up.

We all killed Mr Moonlight.

 

Hidden forces

“Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living” – Soren Kierkegaard

A couple of weeks back I was delighted to be invited to host a seminar at Sheffield Hallam with the FM Masters group led by Ian Ellison. This is a write-up that summarises our discussion, with the liberty of some blog-owners’ license.

Scene set: we are at a standing start, with the intent of creating a fantastic workplace that enables our colleagues to work productively and to support the success and growth of the organisation and individuals that comprise it. As we survey Raglan-like the undulating landscape, what of the forces arrayed are likely to be working for us, and what are against us?

WORKING FOR US

Googleisation: we have a far greater awareness of workplace “possibility” that at any time. The major contribution of the ubiquitous youth club is (fortunately) not “The Intern” but the permission it is has given us to think beyond muted greige. Careful with those toys, Eugene.

Instant gratification: as many brands have discovered the hard way, there is less tolerance of poor quality and negation of responsibility than ever before, as there is no longer any hiding place. While it doesn’t explain the mysteriously enduring popularity of fizzy drinks, it does mean that the giving of a crap workplace will out.

Technology: yada yada – when technology is used appropriately, to make lives better and easier, it holds a massive potential to improve our lives an set us free, much of which has yet to be realised despite commentary to the contrary. We are still in the throes of mimicking existing practice with technology.

Social media and connectivity: we have a capacity to discover, befriend and share with people that physical networking could never have made possible. That is, as long as we embrace the “gift economy” of social and leave our crumpled texts of “The Prince” in the management development seminar.

Globalisation: we have greater access to, and knowledge and insight of, differing ways and approaches across the geoid that ever before. The days of rolling out the “global (American) workplace standard” are over for all but the insensitive.

Design: its not a popularly-held view amongst the café classes but design has a massive potential to create and shape culture – far more so than the other way around. It’s a fascinating idea that ontologically “culture” does not exist, that its just an idea of culture formed under historical conditions – which paves the way for the contribution design is able to make. Used carefully, design is on our side.

The growing interest in workplace as a discipline – not just from its ugly sister “real estate”, but from sectors of other sectors is emerging the place of “workplace” as a body of thought, skill and practice that can create amazing outcomes. It no longer depends on chance.

Critical mass – the increasing number of workplace schemes that are flexible, that are neither the traditional physical depiction of hierarchy or the much-derided pet hate of the decreasingly-popular press or Jeremy Paxman, “open plan”.

Evidence – the availability of knowledge, data and resources. There are no longer any excuses for not being able to simply and easily source meaningful and practical inspiration, with a little time and application. It has also (fortunately) changed the role of consultants in the field (should they chose to heed it) from purveyors of mystical remedies to curators of inspiration.

People-centricity: while likely to sound slightly faddish and glib, a recognition has finally reached the sector that people come before the asset – that as staff costs are usually about 90% of total costs,and that a marginal increase in the other 10% can drive a far more beneficial outcome in productivity than the false sense of responsibility offered by the scythe.

WORKING AGAINST US

Pervading management culture – strands such as management-by-presence, line-management and management by instruction (rather than management by inspiration) are embedded in culture, education and practice having delivered the prosperity of our age. it is easy to lay the blame at Taylorism, the idea, but many supposed modern alternatives are built on the same productivity metaphor.

Gadgetisation – technology for its own ends just “because”, working against itself through sucking in time, energy, resources, focus and motivation, the possibility of the gains obscured by its glow. Not every challenge has a technological solution.

Misguided ideals – eg “cool” – trivialising the workplace, and focussing attention not on the contribution it is making to people’s lives, but on itself. Vanity and the design process are closely related and must be carefully managed. The brand “humanity” is the most vital of all.

Generationalism – making assumptions about what “younger people” want, driving a design and strategy agenda on thin air. In addition, the focus on the emerging workforce (like Grey Advertising’s “Base Camp” for millennials only) is having a detrimental impact on the needs of ageing contributors, growing in number and likely to be working longer.

Silos – aka vested interests – which can be groups or individuals with mass, embedded status or a will to power, wanting to do something different or just not wanting to do what you do. However compelling your vision or your visuals, your business case or your reduction in rentable floorspace, if it doesn’t fit someone else’s plan, they’ll make sure it won’t.

Professional bodies and institutions – in their current form (for they may change), with their tendency to protectionism, exclusivity, narrow perspectives, and inherent position some distance behind those able to push boundaries free of bureaucracy.

Over-complication – there are a few easy and yet significant things we can do – daylight, choice, wifi, storage, influence, refreshments (the “living wage” workplace as I called it) – the rest is a bonus. Money can burn a hole in common sense. Just ask a QPR supporter.

Gimmickification – when Googleisation goes too far, when people who are not Google think they are Google, when the lure of gaudy kindergarten treats erodes brain enamel and you end up with slides, climbing walls, deckchairs, hammocks and a gazebo.

Mythification – the perpetuation of our own vacuous hype – be it to do with collaboration, millennials, crazy spaces for crazy thinking, people/property costs, trust crises, or the worst of all – this era of unparalleled change. While appearing to support a case, their lack of substance merely undermines.

The FM sector, rooted in the fragmented operational considerations that a little over twenty years ago agreed they would be stronger together, constrained by the boundaries it sets and its inferiority complex. It has a major contribution to make, if only it realised it.

Compromise – the chaos of competing interests unleashed on organisational projects of any sort, without knowledge or understanding of the subject in hand. The signatures on the outcome are many, and often opposed. Unless of course it starts going wrong, and then strangely the crowd dissolves into the sidestreets.

The problems of honest case study and appraisal – the glossification of knowledge and information, including everything you find online and especially at conferences, gives you only the upside. Cock-ups become “things we would have done differently” which is code for “I wouldn’t be as daft as to own up”. And if you can ever find a great case study with people in shot other than the designers or their immediate family, please let me know.

Bureaucracy – whether it be from the unconscious layering of policies and processes, the involvement of staff representative bodies, an inherently risk-averse organisational model, the use of hurdles to slow the pace of change, or obfuscation as a means of control , it can appear that the cuffs are applied just as the demonstration of the fine art of juggling is to begin. Its why Lockheed Martin set up Skunk Works as long ago as 1943, but also why so few followed.

It’s a brief run-down, and of course there will be more hidden forces uncovered as we progress – but its always worth knowing who is lining up either side of you before you begin, for “time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted” (John Marsden). No-one ever said it would be easy.

With sincere thanks to Alex Brown, Jane Bailey, Jacqui Grimwood, Simone Jarvis, Andy Bainbridge, Mark Burrows, Tim Jones, Stuart Farnsworth, James Clarke, Sinead O¹Toole, Shirley Ryan, Jonathan Moores, Keith Williamson, Paul Cook and of course Ian Ellison from Sheffield Hallam.

 

Hollow Hills

“Baleful sound and wild voices ignored” [Bauhaus]

The unfortunately ubiquitous proclamation that we are in an “era of unprecedented change” can usually be found immediately preceding someone who hasn’t stopped to think about it. Or who paid no attention in history class. Unfortunately the statement is often heralded by a downloadable ring tone of your choice.

The recent excellent post by my favourite “short-term pessimist/long-term optimist” @FlipChartRick addressed this with a focus on technology – but this post isn’t just about the technology. It’s about – well, everything. Because in pondering this “an era of unprecedented change” we are drawn to consider that we are privileged – that we are living in a sparkling, nerve-tingling time of which previous generations might only be paralysed with envy. Our guard drops, we get sucked in – and don’t consider fully enough that perhaps – just perhaps – that is bullshit, that actually, we could be deluding ourselves, that we are instead entering a long-term plateau of comparative tedium and are monumentally unprepared for it. Dissenting views are shouted reactionary, generationally adrift.

Consider for a moment the possibility that:

On a grand scale, politically the world may be at far less risk from our own insanity than at any time due to the end of the cold war and the resulting dispersal of both threat and power. It could be argued that there was no event in history more dangerous to humanity than the Cuban Missile Crisis, as fingers quivered above large red buttons saying “do not press under any circumstances whatsoever, moron”. We are still breathing the sigh of relief, and fragmentation has made us progressively and collectively safer. But this isn’t a political blog, so let’s get more granular.

Instead of heralding greater freedom, more leisure time, more meaningful and satisfying work, technology may have been a conservative force, solidifying the master/servant relationship, creating greater opportunities for observation, measurement, manipulation, monitoring, control and intrusion into our personal lives, and while automating swathes of mundane process has in reality introducing even more in its stead. And we are still talking about robots taking our jobs.

The drift towards self-determination and networked, democratic organisational structures may be illusory, and that in parallel with the wanton surrender of hard-won individual rights, protection and security have emerged less overt and visible methods of control. Hierarchical structures have survived since we emerged from the caves, proving themselves highly adaptive through far more radical societal change than that brought on by a smartphone and a chat account.

Social media may have actually made us less social, lazier, disinterested, uncommitted, less likely to act and more expectant of the social content of our lives being delivered to our door (or left with a responsible neighbour) than having to actively seek and develop interests and inspiration – that it has created, formalised and institutionalised the Easy Option.

The exponential increase in self-published – our “writing ourselves into existence” – may have been nothing more than geometrically increasing, inconsequential, low-quality impedance, cupcakes in the window – distracting, fresh and colourful one day, stale and discarded the next – making it harder to discover anything useful or insightful than ever before. The needle the same size, the haystack overwhelming, and the algorithm useless. This post, just more interference.

Not easy, is it?

These are merely hypotheses. Disappointing and uncomfortable as they may appear, we need to ask the question as to whether we might be ready for an uncomfortably dull reality, bobbing gently around in the dishwater when we were promised flumes and a wave machine. If the present is deemed an era at all, it is possible that it may prove not to be of unprecedented change, but of generating and believing our own vaccuous hype.

It is far from a pessimistic proposition. If it comes to pass, what might it mean for us? We will need to be more creative, more inspired and inspiring, more genuinely social, more reliant upon our own resources as human beings – but most of all, far more inquisitive and questioning. If we have to try harder, take more initiative, it could bring a deeper understanding of ourselves.

As we walk the hollow hills, philosophy might just save us after all.

 

#workstubs 2

You don’t “manage” change, you make the space for it to happen.

Work is a verb (you do it), a noun (it’s a place where you do it, wherever that place may be), and an adjective (it describes some things and actions) – we make most sense of it where they all join up.

PowerPoint is only crap if what you say with it is crap – have a better story, and tell it well.

Unless you’re Google, you’re not Google – stop trying to be, and stop wishing you were.

All professions are made up of bits of other professions – our skill is made up of the skills of others.

The best thing to do in a pause….. is pause.

The only reason to wear a suit and tie to work is because you want to.

If you think social media is a waste of time, it’s doubtful anyone knows you think so.

Introvert, extrovert, it’s all a distraction. It’s about what you have to offer, not what you have to say.

A mirror is the only motivational poster you will ever need.

Few people are as prepared as they appear, but those that appear most prepared prepare to appear so.

When you need a desk, there is no better answer than a desk. Not everything needs radical reappraisal.

If you think about a problem as a solution you haven’t found yet, you are more likely to find a solution.

We only seem able to declare the beginning of an idea as the end of another – yet ideas begin in a mess, and hide in the shadows when we have no need of them.

Work cannot exist without the meaning you give it.

 

#workstubs

Some of these might be useful….

Whenever you can, do stuff that you haven’t been asked to do, that you thought of, that benefits others or makes a difference.

Your network and the people around you are your search engine, remember to ask – they usually know stuff you wont find alone and online.

Insert a space between yourself and a rant – whatever the need you feel, it’s probably not worth it – what goes out tough usually comes back tougher, and you won’t be ready for it.

If it has to be bad news, find some good news in it – there usually is, you just have to remember to look.

Stop trying to be “disruptive”, and make a contribution instead.

If you think of something good, check if its been thought of before – if it has, make sure you shout out the person who thought of it, and be happy that they thought of it first- it means you’re on the right track.

A lot of what we think of as work is bluster – get to know the difference, and help others who may be struggling to, which is usually most of us. I owe this comment to someone, I just can’t recall who – if it’s you, thank you!

If your kids are asleep when you get home from work, what was your day for?

E-mail is useful but it doesn’t run your life, so don’t let it – forget all the poncey “strategies”, just leave it alone, and do something other than watch your InBox.

If you must send an e-mail, write only to the person you need to – cc = conspicuous clutter, there is a confidence in not contributing any.

Remember people are the way they are and say what they do because of stuff going on with them you don’t know about – give them a break, it’s probably not about you.

There is room in what you do for style with substance – what’s presented well gets noticed, just look around you, don’t kid yourself in a highbrow way that it’s not important.

If you don’t talk in business bullshit, soon others wont either – simplicity is infectious.

More to follow, perhaps.

 

A manifesto for everyone

Work – it should be simple….

Look me in the eye and say “good morning”

Know my name, even my first name

Listen to me, sometimes

Trust me to do what I say I’ll do, because I want to get it done well

Take an interest in what I am doing, even if you are only interested in the results

Consider the challenges I face, they wont be the same as yours but they will be just as important to me as yours are to you

Ask my views on something – anything – just because

Cut me some slack sometimes, I may not always be at the top of my game but may just need a little space – I’ll be back

Understand that I have a life, however simple and dull my stories would have you believe, outside of this place

If I come up with an idea that saves or makes you money, let me have a slice – I may be inspired to think of another one

Balance the view that sometimes I want to get on, and sometimes I just want to be

If I’ve taken some time off because a family member is unwell – remember, and ask me how they are, it can be a lonely place

Make allowances for the fact that I am human – vulnerable, emotional, unpredictable – and don’t behave like the machines and computers all around us – you can’t just reboot me, you might have to talk to me

Tell me how I’m doing – not once a year, but regularly – and give me some tips from your experience of how I can do better

Allow for the fact that I am probably not as bright or resourceful as you

Let me talk to my mates about the football at the weekend – we get a buzz, we feel good, we work harder

Make sure the place and the stuff I work with is safe, my kids want me home in one piece

Talk in a language I understand, not management guff (like forget “objectives” – what do we need to get done?)

Give me the stuff I need to do my job – I can’t cut down trees with a rusty penknife, or even a sharp penknife

Ask me how my weekend was, even if I would rather not tell you or I can’t quite remember

Make sure I can have a decent cup of tea and a healthy(ish) lunch while I’m here, and that I wont owe you more for it than you pay me

Say “thanks” – it makes me feel good, and if I feel good I try harder

Buy me a beer once in a while, I won’t spill it

And if all that happens – work will be great for us all

 

If change managers were organising Christmas

They would at first point out that they were not here to “manage” Christmas but to facilitate it using your natural skills and resources. Especially your financial resources.

The programme would see Christmas Day on 23 January, because they really should have been brought on board earlier to have been effective. If Christmas Day has to be 25 December, all contracted deliverables are void.

They would organise an all-expenses paid trip to interview Father Christmas, to understand his vision, motives and world view. In Selfridges.

Expectations would be aligned around a common goal. Like a heated massaging footspa, for example.

The importance of disruptive behaviour would be encouraged. Like drinking advocat.

They would convince everyone that without their involvement Christmas would be a total disaster, and that old habits like giving and receiving presents and pulling crackers would continue.

They would encourage the use of positive language at this time of year. Like “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year”. Nice.

Its important to be yourself at work.Post-Christmas party moral bankruptcy would be handled sympathetically, through the posting of pictures on a specially-constructed Authenticity Board. And Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

They would superimpose the Grieving Curve on the whole thing. The low point would be unwrapping the heated massaging footspa having asked for a PlayStation.

Carols would be replaced with crustacean mating calls. They’re tricky.

They would deploy a troupe of Associates (all available) to convince you that the heated massaging foot spa was far more what you wanted than the PlayStation you actually asked for, and that you are actually eternally grateful.

A session would be planned for Boxing Day on “letting go”. Of the TV remote.

The appointment would be extended until Easter to ensure all behaviours were bedded in, and that all of the advocat had gone.

They would be returning next year, free of charge, for more of the same. Because it was the best fun they ever had.

 
Back in 2015, Happy New Year!

 

Barefoot in the heart, part 10: the HRD

you probably don’t know me I’m the new HRD MSc CIPD here to dispel the legacy of personnel tampax and tea hired by witch trial fired by fax hardwired by policy deranged by iniquity its all changed of course now we are human resource the fanatical want to call us capital so we’re strategic not tactical but its comedic I know about human beings me want to be your equal your business partner your confidant your trusted advisor always on your shoulder the organisational direction your protection the quiet insurrection in your head the instead in your dilemma cracking the cemented code hacking fracking quacking the motherlode we’re all social media cupcakes now the stakes are higher we speak gen y they’re a limited supply no reason why born online with an endless capacity for the assonine we’re on the frontline in the trenches fighting the just war for talent filling benches with the itinerant/ambivalent/belligerent who end up leaving when they stop believing the inflated inculcated crap that led them out from the duvet and into the trap but they’re hard to find when you’ve been found out but when all alleys are blind we’ve still got Klout got an enviable litany of bullshit-free motivational inspirational transformational exercises oh yes a cacophony for success going to get crowned for turning this business around and when all else fails I still have the employee estrangement survey for an annual confirmation of derangement at the heart of the polis and through the monotony of my claim to a seat at the table I find solace in polishing the mahogany and crushing velvet for the backsides that reserve it through accidents of history the dream lives on in perpetuity but in my heart I am barefoot searching for identity and a place in posterity knowing my contribution would be immense if I could just be heard above the ambivalence so I fight push assert act extravert insistent bold but I’m a people person and it pierces my heart like a dart when you tell me I’m unapproachable distant cold

This post was first published in This time its Personnel: Humane Resourced 2 available on Amazon, all proceeds to charity