The Parable of Corporate Bullshit

The ongoing discussion between the pro-City franchise supporters and those of us who won’t accept being ridden over by the ECB’s insistence on gagging clauses and attempts to present a fait accompli gives Yates an opportunity to share a parable with y’all.

Pour yourself a nice mug of tea, settle back and enjoy this Parable of Corporate Bullshit

It was a Tuesday morning.  Yates had been doing his usual techie things in the server room and emerged for a mouthful of coffee.  The atmosphere in the section by the server room was unusually manic.  No inspections were impending, maybe the section manager’s dodgy deals and misdeeds had been discovered and he’d been sacked.  This thought pleased Yates greatly.

As Yates took a sip of his Douwe Egberts filter coffee (no milk, 2 sugars) a couple of colleagues came over exclaiming “We’re being taken over!”.  Being close to the CEO’s Executive PA, Yates was sure that if anything was likely to threaten the organisation she would know and would have dropped a gentle warning this way.  Yates looked up from his steaming mug.

This sort of stuff doesn’t happen overnight – where’s the official statement or your evidence?”

“Here’s the FD’s calendar. (*shows pages of printouts*) Lots of meetings with his counterpart at [organisation].”

“So a beancounter bash. They’re not illegal. Neither is fwapping over financial figures, distasteful as that may be.”

“But look where they’re being held!”

“At the other beancounter’s office. There’s a good noodle bar not too far from there. Have you got any stronger evidence?”

“Look at these other appointments – our CEO, their CEO, both FDs and chairs. 6 times in 2 months.”

“OK. Odd of the FD to not mask them from public view if they’re of such importance. Have you looked at the profile of the other organisation?”

“Eh?”

“Why would they want to take us over? What have we got that they want? Are our finances in better shape than theirs? Do they want to operate in our areas?”

“Dunno,”

“This is what’s gotten y’all so animated today?”

“Yeah,”

“The other organisation could be in the shit and our CEO is helping them out. We’ve been through that ourselves. You need better evidence than that. Who started the rumour?”

“Dunno,”

“Then do some digging around to see. Put a coherent thread together first, eh?”

Yates held his lapels the way William Hartnell used to when he was cajoling people to use their brains better.

Despite Yates’ urges of logic and collecting evidence the rumour spread like wildfire.  So quickly in fact that the FD declared an urgent meeting for the whole staff at 2pm that day.

100 staff in the main meeting room, all facing a table.  Not a flask of coffee or pack of biscuits in sight.  Very poor show.  At the table were sat the FD and two of his cronies.  Right in the middle of the front row sat Yates, eyeballing the FD.

(It is not widely known that Yates played at hooker in rugby games so is used to being in the middle of the front row.)

“I’ve called this meeting to address the rumour that seems to have spread today that we are being taken over. I don’t know where this rumour came from…”

“Your calendar!” comes a voice from the back of the room (Yates giggles).

FD grimaces then visibly takes a breath to focus himself.

**BULLSHIT KLAXON! BULLSHIT KLAXON! BULLSHIT KLAXON! BULLSHIT KLAXON!**

“There is no cause for concern, the meetings have been standard operational meetings. I have nothing else to tell you.”

*Mooing noise comes from the back of the room*  FD glares impotently

15 minutes later at my desk just opposite the FD’s room. His door is open, he’s sat at his desk and Yates is musing loudly:

“So let me get this straight. A rumour takes off and spreads like galloping clap through the organisation. A rumour that might have a bit more substance than the usual stuff. Within 3 hours the FD calls a mandatory meeting and at that meeting says he has nothing to tell us.

As rumour control measures go that’s equivalent to me pissing on an oil rig fire to try and put it out. The fact he got so twitchy is a fat goth sized giveaway that something’s up.”

Yes, the FD had been rumbled. Instead of being (or appearing to be) open and honest, his embarrassing response massively damaged his credibility and trustworthiness throughout the organisation.

As it transpired, this had revealed the attempted groundwork in what became a strange kind of corporate merger resulting in cock ups, confusion and very pissed off staff on all sides of the new organisation.

Ultimately its implementation was very similar to the ECB’s approach to City T20 franchises; employing sycophants to say “Yes sir” to every suggestion, flat refusal to say anything to people “outside the circle” other than “This is the future, deal with it”, and their supporters being very dismissive of any questions or criticisms.

The so-called due diligence that was done was as weak as the Yates throw.  The whole project was something agreed between old school chums on the golf course and the friends they had recruited. It was the dismal failure it deserved to be.

This particular clusterfuck was finally put out of its misery thanks to a proper merger with another organisation some years later. The new identity obliterated all mention of the clusterfuck brand with an effectiveness that Stalin would have admired.

Here endeth the lesson.  Tea and cakes in the Vestry, anyone?