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tales from the woods

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


As i punch in these words, i realize that i'm no longer whiling away my time, waiting for my US counterparts to come in. Instead, i'm now waiting to "touch base" with them. Of course, to do this, i have to setup a "one-on-one" meeting with them to discuss my "deliverables" and "thrash out" the "opens". There is a chance that the issue might get "escalated", in which case, a "tiger team" would have to be formed and would "brainstorm" on the "burning" "showstoppers". Have i become a jargon spewing machine, you ask? Am i on the "fast lane" to managerial stardom, might you argue? Sadly, no. Has this global fetish for verbing nouns, nouning verbs, and using "action phrases" taken over the Indian corporate work place? YES!

Little do people realize that this pestilence can only be rivaled by that other glorious import: congress grass. Nowadays, a meeting is rarely concluded without the cameo appearence of several such catch phrases. I'm not even getting into TLAs here (Three Letter Acronyms), only phrases and bastardized words. Is this what they don't teach you at Harvard Business School, i wonder.

The funny thing is that this can prove to be quite a weapon, if wielded correctly. Many a useless document have i filled and many a customer have i placated with this jargon dump (demonic laughter ensues). "At the end of the day", however, i hark for the simpler daze when a lunch was a verb, and did not have anything to do with "power" or a "brown bag". "Communication" and "Customer" were not the holy grails to which you had to spend half your life, whoring away. Is the advent of this jargon an urban meme that has evolved to provide "suits" and "techies" with an identity, an "exclusivity", if you will? Is this instead the result of an evolutionary defence mechanism, a shield with which to ward off the evils of over-work, daily pressures, and job threats? Or is it simply a sign of creeping dementia on the part of yours truly?

Since these questions take us back to the more basic argument of form vs substance, let us define (defile?) our work ethic today. A modern employee is now expected to be more productive, sacrifice his/her personal life, demonstrate loyalty towards one's company, AND pander to the management fad of the day. Another well known fact of today is that one's work output mostly does NOT speak for itself. One has to speak for it, trumpet it around, and generally wake one's managers by sending electronic mails to them with Carbon Copies to sufficiently important people. "Techies" have to keep throwing sufficient amounts of technical-speak at one's managers and customers. "Suits" have to verb sufficient nouns and keep abreast with the hot and crisp management fads to keep sounding like a suit. These deliberate obfuscations work in a very subtle way. If the receiving party of the communication deciphers the basic message, it suddenly feels a sense of acheivement. Not at the message itself, but at the ability to decipher it. One suddenly feels included to the "inner circle", so as to speak. The real message has already been forgotten. This talent really keeps our job secure, and brings food to our table, dammit!

As i see my snarkiness and my posting evergy levels dissipate, i realize that this malaise has no cure. To repeat another aphorism, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

Hope you had enough of a "take home" from this post. If not, "shoot" me a "note", and i'll get back to you "yesterday".


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