Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Quip as artform, IV

Post-quip contemplation.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

They really do the golfing thing

Reality always kicks harder than fiction, doesn't it?

I was called to an informal meeting in the office of one of the bank's senior department heads. He was a tall man in his 40s, young for the position. He gave a relatively short but serious speech about some of the problems the bank faces. As always when someone in a suit starts talking to other people in suits, I lost focus after 35 seconds and my mind and eyeballs started to wander.

The big wrap-around view from the corner office certainly was inviting, but I thought staring straight out the window would be a little obvious. Instead I kept my eyes pointed downward. This caused me to notice a golf putter propped against the far wall of the office, with four golf balls on the floor next to a small practice cup.

Now, I know what you're thinking - come on, get real, only in Hollywood parodies and bad TV shows do bank executives actually practice their putting in the office. But there it was: a putter, four balls and a plastic bracket stuck to the floor. I stared long and hard to make sure it was not an illusion.

After seeing the alchemists and the monkeys in the coffee machine I've learned to take a moment to focus and make sure that reality is what it seems. And oh yes, it is: bank executives really do practice their short game in the office, with a bad carpet as a green and their desk chair and garbage bin as obstacles.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


The corporate experience is not complete without the threat of being downsized. I was convinced my job would be downsized when senior management decided to change the position of 'shadow experts' who work within many of the bank's departments.

'Shadow experts?' you ask. A fair question.

There are large departments for things like IT, human resources and communications. But in addition to these departments, there are also much smaller groups of IT or HR experts, sometimes just one or two individuals, working within functional departments like Finance, Compliance, Legal, and so on. These individuals are 'shadow' experts, as their work mirrors that of another full department, but on a much smaller scale. Sound complicated? That's why management wanted to change, by getting rid of these shadow experts and having absolutely everyone on HR issues, for example, report only to the actual HR department.

It's an amalgamation, in other words.

My colleague and I met with someone from Communications. He was new and we thought he just wanted to introduce himself. He had a serious air to him, and two minutes into the meeting he let us know that at his last job, for a British multinational, he was the chief communicator at a time when 5,000 staff were let go.

Well, isn't that a nice way to introduce yourself? Might as well change your name to Mr. Carpetbagger to ensure we all get the message.

My colleague and I sat there as Carpetbagger explained how his mandate was to look for synergies between communicators, which we understood immediately as an evil plot to fuck up our carefully constructed independence.

The meeting ended politely and we returned to our desks.

'What the hell was that about?' we asked each other, 'Was that the devil? Did you see any actual horns?'

This was just what I needed to keep my mind off work.

Quip as artform, III

Ye Olde Quipster
circa 1927