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Memories of Workplace Philosophy Theories Past
Old 04-21-2020, 07:17 AM   #1
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Memories of Workplace Philosophy Theories Past

Do any of you ever run across notes, scraps of paper, or old emails that bring back a shudder of distaste at the various theories that governed workplace shifts (or disguised negative changes in workplace conditions?)

I just found some notepaper from some old, undated presentation I attended, somewhere and place lost in time. My scribblings:

"Responsibility matrix (list of topics for DA 101 and DA 102, color coded"

"Climate for Innovation Components" (to which I had added, "Inexplicable Title," though now I have discovered that there is such a thing, at least in management theory, as "an innovation climate."

"Organizer spoke about how he wanted to hire stewardesses."

"Apostrophe error in first frame of presentation."

I REALLY disliked attending powerpoint presentations about new management philosophies that would now supposedly govern our activities. But, eventually, I came to realize they were not meant for me, but were simply means of generating some paragraphs for the institution's annual report, and keeping consultant companies in business. Now, I smile.

What about anyone else, do you ever find such scraps of notes in old file folders?
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Old 04-21-2020, 07:47 AM   #2
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You bring back some memories which would probably be better forgotten.

Like all big corporations, we had the usual "flavor of the month" motivational BS sayings, and more than our share of programs based on books written by some expert or some conference attended by our management.

It always amazed me the lack of depth of character of the people who bought these ideas and programs hook, line and sinker.

My all-time favorite will always be Lou Tice. He built an empire on what amounts to motivational speaking. He bragged that he "coached" all the top sports coaches and executives at all the top companies. He also bragged about how rich he was, and how many houses he owned. Let's just say I didn't hold a very high opinion of him.

The deep, meaningful revelations which wowed our top executives were all basic values that the rest of us had learned in kindergarten, or from our mothers. The fact that human decency was a new and exciting concept to our management was enlightening in itself. The fact that they made us spend man-years collectively listening to it was scary.

My favorite part was the hardcover book and binder full of CDs they gave each of us. This from a company which could never afford to give raises.

Around this same time, eBay was just starting to be a thing. I was looking for something I could sell, to see how it worked.

I got $10 for that book. I was pretty happy.
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Old 04-21-2020, 08:06 AM   #3
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At one small (very small) firm I worked for the Pointy Haired Boss would put motivational phrases in his Windows screensaver, things like "Motivation, creativity, thoroughness and desire = Quality!" Bleh.

The last thing I did on my last day there was to update the screensaver on the computer assigned to me to read, "Insert meaningless phrase here. Use the word 'quality' at least once." A month later my coworker called to tell me, "They finally found your screensaver. They were not amused." We both had a giant bellylaugh over that.
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Old 04-21-2020, 08:40 AM   #4
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Every few years, my megacorp purchased the "Philosophy of the Lustrum." Performance Excellence comes to mind. In every case, the company spent millions and then eventually learned how to circumvent the whole thing and do things as they had been done for 100 years - by the seat of the pants of the 5 guys (yep, all guys IIRC) at the top. It got pretty frustrating after the 4th or 5th iteration. It's not that I minded the waste of money or even the waste of time. It was that folks would eventually buy into the "new thing" - then it would quietly go away and we'd go back to the old way of doing things - which actually seemed to work pretty well. My take away was that corporate philosophy is changed only at the point of a gun or due to a catastrophe of biblical proportions. Fortunately, we never experienced either situation during my tenure. YMMV
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Old 04-21-2020, 09:03 AM   #5
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Gotta love all those reorganizations back and forth between functional and product. Something along the lines of these:
"We need all the people in this job function to work together to benefit from each other's expertise and increase efficiency of that function"
"We need all the people that work on this product to work together to benefit from the colocated work area and increase efficiency of the product"
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Old 04-21-2020, 10:28 AM   #6
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Yes, Capt Tom, how well I remember the Lou Tice "New Age "Thinking" buy off. We even incorporated those affirmations in our yearly objectives. Did you ever put those 10 affirmations under your pillow at night? I never graduated to the deep dive religion phase....
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Old 04-21-2020, 10:58 AM   #7
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Then tere was the "ZD" Zero Defects, along with the 6 Sigma
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Old 04-21-2020, 11:58 AM   #8
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A CEO at a company I worked for went out to lunch with a big name guru who said: "You should fire the lower 30% of your workforce every year. It keeps the top group scared and productive." So he implemented it and guess what? Most of that top group, including me, left.

Same guy had a management theory that one should only hire married men with kids. Why? Same guru told him that a married man with young kids has no cash reserves and needs to bring home the bacon. You can work him around the clock because he has no time or money to quit and look for another job.
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Old 04-21-2020, 12:14 PM   #9
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Old 04-21-2020, 01:58 PM   #10
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We want our customers to fall in love with our business.
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:04 PM   #11
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You haven't lived unless you worked for a company that spent the better part of a decade trying to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. No need to drink the KoolAid, it was supplied via an IV.
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:18 PM   #12
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You haven't lived unless you worked for a company that spent the better part of a decade trying to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. No need to drink the KoolAid, it was supplied via an IV.
Oh. my. gawd. I took a look, the clicks, the clicks inside of clicks, then reached gems like this:

Quote:
P.2c. The Baldrige Scoring System (pages 29–34) uses performance improvement through learning and integration as a dimension in assessing the maturity of organizational approaches and their deployment.
OK REWahoo, you have thrown down a gauntlet. I have NEVER seen any consulting company KoolAid that matched the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program. My stomach clenched just reading a little of it. I could imagine the unit roll-out, the presenter and the powerpoint, the breaks to fill out little assessment quizzes and hand them in, the announcement of the Category Teams. Me, trying to write down how many words I could form out of "Assessment." AAAARGH!

This has to be the nadir.
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:36 PM   #13
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Yes, Capt Tom, how well I remember the Lou Tice "New Age "Thinking" buy off. We even incorporated those affirmations in our yearly objectives. Did you ever put those 10 affirmations under your pillow at night? I never graduated to the deep dive religion phase....
I never drank the Kool-Aid. Most of my co-workers were long-time employees who had seen this sort of BS come and go. We went to the mandatory meetings, then had a good laugh about it afterward.

The funniest part was how he made up new meanings for words which actually meant something else. He came across as a man with a small vocabulary, trying to sound smart. The only ones he fooled were upper management.

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Then tere was the "ZD" Zero Defects, along with the 6 Sigma
OMG, 6 Sigma! I worked with teams at the home office (not my workplace) who actually drank that Kool-Aid. It was all I could do to keep a straight face as they talked about earning various colored belts and putting together those silly reports, analyzing some business process. I actually had to do one of those. Fortunately I'm pretty good at writing BS. Probably took me an hour.
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:40 PM   #14
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Oh. my. gawd. I took a look, the clicks, the clicks inside of clicks, then reached gems like this:

OK REWahoo, you have thrown down a gauntlet. I have NEVER seen any consulting company KoolAid that matched the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program. My stomach clenched just reading a little of it. I could imagine the unit roll-out, the presenter and the powerpoint, the breaks to fill out little assessment quizzes and hand them in, the announcement of the Category Teams. Me, trying to write down how many words I could form out of "Assessment." AAAARGH!

This has to be the nadir.
If you really want a visual treat, scroll through an "Application Summary" from one of the winning companies. You don't need to read anything, just look at the amazing graphic depictions. Here is an example, only a short 30 pages in length.
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Old 04-21-2020, 02:45 PM   #15
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What about the rush for everyone to get ISO-9000 approvals?
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Old 04-21-2020, 03:19 PM   #16
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What about the rush for everyone to get ISO-9000 approvals?
Yeah, I loved that one. When looking for new suppliers for large, custom fabricated fiberglass reinforced plastic vessels, I visited several ISO-9000 certified FRP fabricators all over the world (Israel, China, Malaysia, South Africa). 3 had dirt floors, another had workers in barefeet standing on the tables to work on the product.

ISO-9000 simply meant we will make it the same way everytime, even if the quality sucks.
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Old 04-21-2020, 03:24 PM   #17
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TQM 'nuff said.
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Old 04-21-2020, 03:28 PM   #18
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The politically correct "religion" in my workplace is DIVERSITY. Shoved down our throat in a million ways, preached to the supposedly "unwoke" until we are indoctrinated, yet largely only an undefined buzzword and little to no actual progress because it is all talk and little action. That's typical of this workplace as I have observed over more than 3 decades. SUSTAINABILITY is religion #2. Same talk with little action.

Hey--I am retiring this year!! Can't wait to get out. Will never look back.
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Old 04-21-2020, 03:47 PM   #19
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TQM 'nuff said.
+1.

That was another one.
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Old 04-21-2020, 04:32 PM   #20
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I never experienced too much of the motivational crap at work, mainly because management knew better than to expose the motivators to our negativity in the editorial department. The one instance I can recall was when the phone company sent us a trainer to teach us how to use the phone. As part of the lesson, we all received a mirror so we could make sure we were smiling while we conversed over the wire.

Afterwards we heard from our managing editor that the trainer complained to the CEO about the toxic attitude the editors and reporters had to her instruction. The ME was laughing when he passed along the complaint.
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