Monday, June 26, 2006

Cow-orkers V: Meetings

Attention Corporate Monkey Infidels:
Team meetings, unit meetings, group meetings, area meetings, division meetings, and other such meetings are not, repeat not meant for any sort of discourse. They exist solely to stroke the ego of the numbnuts holding such a meeting so he or she can feel more import.

Unfortunately, most corporate monkeys don't realise this, believing that the meeting is taking place in order to facilitate an exchange of ideas and discussions. This might be the case in a software development meeting but it just ain't the case when the meeting includes all members of a particular corporate hierarchy.

The decisions have already been made in hierarchy meetings. The Death by PowerPoint slides were approved by upper management last week. The purpose of the meeting is one-way communication from up on high down to you fucking peons. Realise this and life becomes So. Much. Easier.

    The purposes of the corporate meeting:
  1. Information (such as it is) is conveyed to those lower down on the org chart.
  2. The ego of the speaker is fed.

That's it. Meetings are unnecessary. The presenter could very well have sent the PowerPoint presentation to you by mail which would have been considerably more useful; you'd be able to peruse the info at your own pace and you'd have a copy of it in case there was something you actually needed to know.

    How to get through the corporate meeting:
  1. If there are slides, sit down, shut up, twiddle your thumbs until the talking stops, and go back to your hole.
  2. If you can find a spot outside the speaker's line of sight, you can use the time to read through notes or do a few sudoku puzzles. I'm partial to the Killer Sudokus myself.
  3. When the speaker finally asks if there are any questions, shut up. If someone else starts talking, stab him.
If you actually have a question, send it later in an E-Mail.

I was finishing puzzle number three as $Manager finished a presentation with the same goddamned slides which had been presented by two other manager at two equally useless, pointless meetings a week ago. Although Berti was there, he'd remained surprisingly silent throughout the ordeal. The last slide came up:

Q & A

"Are there any more questions?"

Of course not! During the two versions of this meeting Berti had wasted more than 30 minutes at each with meaningless questions, first about mintiæ, then following up each one with every conceivable and impossible hypothetical situation. Berti is one hell of an unintentional troll.

If some minor mention was made of ScreenClean® windshield cleaner and how it works on all bird shit which might end up on one's windscreen, Berti would ask for clarifications. Would it work on all bird shit? What about chicken shit? How about ostrich or emu shit, something he needs to know since he goes to Australia once eveery three years.

After running through every member of the Aves class, Berti would move up to the Chordata phylum, starting with, say, goats since the farm near the office raises them. Once told "Goats can't fly, so there's no worry about getting goat shit on your windshield", Berti would first reply, "Ostriches don't fly and you said it works on their shit. Just for the sake of argument, suppose a goat was born with wings."

The presenter inevitably allows himself to be sucked into this nonsensical discussion because he's trying to look reasonable. He also lives in fear of being called to the carpet by his own manager for failing to address the legitimate concerns of an employee under him, regardless of how illegitimate they might actually be. One complaint can have a big effect come review time. "A goat can't be born with wings, Berti. It's a mammal."

"But bats are mammals too, and they have wings. Suppose the mother goat maybe ate food grown near Chernobyl or something and this was the result."
"Fine. If a mother goat ate radioactive food and the goat was born with wings, it still couldn't fly. It's too heavy and non-aerodynamic."
"But let's suppose it can. The Stealth Fighter isn't aerodynamic and it can fly, and animal brains are still more powerful than computers."
"Okay, a flying goat. If a flying goat flies over your car and shits on the windshield, ScreenClean® will still work. Are there any other questions?"
"What if someone picked up some goat shit and threw it at the windshield. Would ScreenClean® work then? And what about if, instead of throwing it at the car, some kids started smearing it on the windshield, really rubbing it hard?"

Such is Berti's manner. He's a master at this. Berti's German and he truly believes every single point he raises is rational.

But he'd already asked everything possible concerning this presentation, this being our third time around. This third version of the meeting had only wasted 50 minutes, Berti's and everyone else's questions having been exhausted the first two times.

The manager made a mistake: She repeated the question.

Berti, not wanting to disappoint, having already been given the answer to every possible goat shit scenario, took a new tack:

"Does ScreenClean® work on mule shit?"

I got through another three diabolical/evil puzzles before we finally got out of there.

There's a poll in the HuSi version.

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The views expressed on this blog are my own and
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single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.