21 things I don’t miss about corporate America.
Two and a half years ago, I quit the corporate gig I had once loved. I still miss the friends I made there. But there’s a ton I don’t miss— like this list of total horse-dook that still actively festers (with flies) in many large corporations:
1.) The Great Annual Reorg.
This year, we’re moving our creative team under the operations team, because we could get even better creative if we just operationalized it, you know?
2.) Attack of the meaningless data.
Effective immediately, marketing email subject lines should be no more than 45 characters, but contain no fewer than 4 letter k’s and one special character. Because a very limited set of data taken from a high-priced industry analyst report in an industry unrelated to ours says we should.
3.) Death by best practices.
We don’t need even better practices. Best practices are fine enough. After all, we won’t be the next Apple if we go around thinking differently all the time. Ready, set, CONFORM!
4.) Thinking in quarters.
We didn’t make our numbers this quarter. So let’s throw out our entire strategy, and spend the rest of this quarter coming up with a new one. Then, when we miss our numbers again, we can just sell a building or something to make up the difference.
5.) Personal development plans.
Twice a year, let’s get together and talk about your goals and ambitions. Then, we’ll build a plan for accomplishing these goals — but not actually help you achieve any of them. We want you to grow — just not with any resources from us.
6.) Management by best seller.
Think fast. Fail fast. Lean in. Rise strong. Disrupt yourself. Start with why. Take EXTREME ownership. Let’s pick a new one each quarter, shall we? Like a little book club, but with our happiness and profitability at stake.
7.) The arbitrary budget exercise.
I’ll need your FY17 budget proposals by the end of the month. Please spend that entire time building an airtight case for the big profits you could drive if we actually funded them. Then, the board will crumple them up and burn them in effigy, before giving you the same budget you had last year, less 10 percent.
8.) That one guy who keeps his job despite being completely awful.
Billy does really good work, if you just give him 14 years. True, it comes back in a format we can’t use every single time. And the email rant he sends along with it is usually insensitive and entirely void of any knowledge whatsoever of what the rest of the team is working on. So let’s keep him around, I’m eager to see where his growth path might take him.
9.) The bloat of c-suite titles.
We’re out of options, so let’s give these C’s away like candy corns. Boom, you’re the Chief Janitorial Officer.
10.) The Human Resources Department.
We’re here to protect our employees, and help them thrive. But mostly just spy on them, and take notes to protect the company against financial liability in the event that we do something really, really bad and can’t own up to it like grown people would.
11.) The internal comm’s “spin factory.”
We’re excited to introduce our best benefits package ever! It’s actually 20% cheaper than last year, if you just sever your arm in an accident on the shop floor, then use the lost appendage payout to pre-pay your annual family deductible of $37,900!
12.) Being part of that spin factory.
You’re NOT getting a demotion — you’re getting put on a special project! Special projects are for our most special contributors, see?
13.) Document everything. Document nothing.
To let him go, we’ll need you to document everything. But don’t actually document it, or keep those documents you didn’t create longer than our document policy allows. Be very thorough.
14.) Offsite meetings.
This meeting is so critical to our business that we should actually conduct it entirely outside of our business. Also, let’s add costly distractions like ropes courses and team cooking lessons in, and exclude a few people who should probably have been invited, to generate general suspicion and paranoia.
15.) The omniscient Board of Directors.
25 years ago, Carlton Willywig sold nine lines of code to IBM for 24 million dollars. He has done nothing since — which makes him the best qualified person, alongside Caledonia Sorrenson, oil heiress, to weigh in with a heavy hand on our healthcare product strategy.
16.) Sales-first cultures.
Never mind who dreamed it, designed it, built it, generated massive interest in it, supported it,and continually improved it . Just get a signature on this line and you can have all the credit, plus instant wealth.
17.) Ask legal.
Before we do anything different innovative, let’s give our legal team an opportunity to stifle it. Then, we’ll run it through a couple industry consultants that also advise all of our competitors. That way, we release exactly what everyone else is doing.
18.) The Senior VP of Encroachment.
Why is the sky blue in this advertisment? I’m just asking because everyone is using blue skies. Now, I’m no marketer — I’m just the Sr. VP of Facilities—but it seems to me like we might be missing an opportunity to use a brown sky here. In fact, I just texted my idea to Caledonia Sorreson on the Board, and she likes the Brown Sky thing too. So let’s run with that.
19.) Paying for mediocrity at scale.
Look, I know they aren’t the best vendor out there. But we need more work, not necessarily good work. With this year’s budget, let’s focus on getting a lot done, but very poorly. It’s just a smarter use of our dollars than paying for fewer things, done properly.
20.) The disruption mindset.
Lettuce is old and tired. People don’t want lettuce anymore. They want something exactly like lettuce, but maybe you drink it through your phone, we’re not sure yet. But here’s what we are sure about: We’re not going to grow the lettuce anymore. We’re going to print it, from proprietary lettuce printers, at unfathomable expense—so we can say we were the first company to completely disrupt lettuce. If you don’t know how to make that possible, you’re fired and good riddance.
21.) Meaningless business graphics.
I’m not sure what this data shows. But let’s put “Time” on the x axis, “EBITDA” on the y, and add a few variables: Renter vs. owner mentality would be a good one, and so would gross sales by geo. See if we can make an infographic with that, will ya? The long scroll-y kind, with the cool fonts and big numbers.
Joshua Merritt hasn’t really left corporate America. He’s just a vendor now.
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