Sunday, July 4, 2010


Let's face it: lot of people don't have what it takes to be a successful manager.1 Thankfully, there are those of us who are management gurus, who can guide you in your management tasks. I'd like to take a few moments to evangelize and drive some holistic global strategic initiatives, so that you can maximize the value-add of your core competency.2

When an employee is no longer able to perform any task that requires the slightest modicum of skill, that employee is immediately promoted to management. Should you find yourself in the unenviable position of producing "value" for your company, begin wandering the office muttering to yourself random phrases from your Buzzword Flash Cards, occasionally yelping with the ferocity of a Colombian Spider Monkey. You will be promoted by the end of the week.3

Once in management, it is absolutely essential that you pick up the lingo. Though buzzwords get you halfway, there are still a variety of phrases that the successful manager employs to simultaneously revolt and disgust her or his employees. Do not underestimate the difficulty of this task; they have entire schools and degree programs dedicated solely to the pursuit of inane idioms.

For example, you should make at least one reference to "bells and whistles" each and every day. If you find yourself inundated by actual work, speak about playing whack-a-mole, calling a fire drill, soliciting all hands on deck, or share a fake laugh with your fellow managers about herding cats, even if none of you knows a thing about herds, herding, riding a horse, being outside, seeing sunlight, or cats, but you do know how to watch television, and can understand irony via visual CGI cues.

At the end of the day,4 if you're all out of ideas, you could always finish off a meeting by making reference to "opening the kimono". Let us, for now, ignore the horrendous negative externality you are inflicting upon humanity as at least one of the individuals present to hear you use that phrase will, for eternity, be subjected to a mental image of you, an overweight, hairy, Texan, opening his kimono every time the word kimono is ever used ever ever ever. A million poxes upon you and your stray cats for that.

Successful management involves making other people do work, and making decisions that are in no way correlated to actual "data", or anything that could be construed as "data", unless you believe your preconceived notions acquired from a different project in a different company in a different crack-induced hallucination and in a different dimension entirely constitute "data".

That being said, the absolute, most successful managers task individuals with discovering data, then ignore that data when making their decision. There are no other words to describe this other than sheer malevolent brilliance.

The consequences of being in management are: higher pay, more control over your destiny, and a complete immunity from mistakes. If you do no work, you can make no mistakes. You bat 1000 every day. Of course, you could make a bad decision, but those are easily explained away by referencing "changing market conditions", or, more commonly, blaming your lackeys (employees).

In summary, I would like to mention that all of my past, future, and current managers are bright, brilliant, beautiful, and benevolent. May inspired sunlight rest on every memo you send me, and may happy ducks accompany you at 5:00 PM on the dot every evening on your way home.

1. And we call those people "productive employees".
2. I should thank my brother Jeremiah for the inspiration behind this phrase, as well as this week's topic.
3. I have personally exploited this strategy successfully, though substitute "muttering" with "singing", and "random phrases" with "songs from the best musicals of all time", and "yelping" with "dancing like Dick Van Dyck in Mary Poppins".
4. Please note the irony of the use of this, the most hateful of phrases, here in a post describing the Hated Phrases. I have met the enemy, and he is me.

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