Oct 1, 2006

The Beginning of The End

When I got back from lunch there was a smoke machine by my desk. I practically tripped over the bulky wires from the makeshift sound system and had to dodge the seven stands that were draped in green butcher paper.

The office had been decorated the night before in our garish company colors; red, green, and purple. It was time for our annual roll-out of the new catch phrase. In late 2004 our space was transformed into something resembling a Chinese whorehouse with paper lanterns, dragons, streamers, and so many fortune cookies that we were snacking on them into June of the following year. That was “The Year of the Client,” the bastard child of Jack Mitchell’s Hug Your Customer and Kenneth Blanchard’s Raving Fans. In a nutshell, YOTC (or “yutz” as it was often called) gave a phrase to the “you’ll do it and you’ll like it” mentality of bending over for our clients. Late nights, weekends, whatever it took.

I didn’t have a clue as to the new theme. It probably related to our book club again. It seemed that whenever upper management read anything, they immediately bought into it. It was the “any kind of change is a good change” mentality that threw us into some pretty precarious spots, only saved by the figurative blood and literal sweat and tears of the peons that pulled us through those poor leadership choices. The rumour had been that our fall read, Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat was the clarion call of outsourcing, and judging from the rampant use of freelancers (esp. Romanians), there seemed to be a grain of truth to that proposition. But where would a smoke machine fit into all of that? Unless I was to take it that this would provide the smoke and that mirrors would be brought in later when the management team showed up.

The smoke machine belched out a putrid cloud while music bellowed from the sound system. Running into our midst, like a pack of wild idiots, came our entire management team. They were all dressed in black t-shirts, black pants, sunglasses, and purple capes. Like something out of an episode of “Batman” or my darkest nightmare, they all began posing and mock fighting for what seemed like forever.

The theme to 2006 was revealed. "No Limits." It was some kind of superhero theme with valuable corporate buzzwords associated with various caricatures of employees associated with ideals such as "Creativity" and "Kaizen". WTF is "Kaizen"? Good question.

Kaizen, it turns out, comes from Six Sigma (considered by some to be a "codification of mediocrity") that is defined as: Japanese term that means continuous improvement, taken from words 'Kai' means continuous and 'zen' means improvement. Some translate 'Kai' to mean change and 'zen' to mean good, or for the better.

After revealing the various "super heroes," our fearless leader went over the company's (rather, the leadership team's) eleven top ten goals for 2006. When one of them was moving from #3 on the "Promo 100" list to #1, the COO began chanting, "We're number one, we're number one! WE'RE NUMBER ONE!" People joined in... the room became filled with droning, almost desperate, cries of this mantra. I could only think of Homer Simpson when he chants, "U.S.A!" Eyes askew, Homer personifies mindless patriotism. "In your face!"

While they put on this display, I pulled up Monster.com and began to search for new employment.


45th night said...

My previous employment sounds quite similar, ePrize might actually sound a bit worse which I once thought was impossible. Ok there were never pep rally chanting sequences, so I can't totally bitch. She did set off the dogs bark collar though during a normal bitch session...

I had the guts to quit, and now find myself in the job search again. I don't have the guts to tell the horror stories of my last job, but I realize I need to in order to help the future employees. I am young and a bit afraid of the lawyers...

I wanted to say thank you because, I read your blog tonight as I was applying to ePrize (Potentially to your old job... a lot of css and design work?). I already have a great offer with a great company, but I was in awe of the clients ePrize works with. I thought it was simply something that I wouldn't be able to pass up. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that I came close to finding myself in the same situation. Oh God, when I read the "mass firings and waves of hiring", it made me sick, and yet so grateful I was randomly tooling around on the internet. Thanks again.

dizgruntled said...

VICTORY!!!!! 45th Night has been saved! You have been saved!