Tuesday, April 22, 2008

View from the monkey tree #3,124,598

I found myself in a conversation about money this weekend with one of the Three Official Friends (there's nothing quite like a more successful person telling you it isn't important), which segued into a more general plaint about the top-heavy big-corporate bureaucracy he has to deal with. There's nothing like a marketing weasel complaining about corporate dross for that matter, but old friends talking here, and it's got to be a Herculean commitment to do what he does and keep his soul. In any case, they have a rotten chief to Indian ratio, and I tried to tell him it's not unique to the big boys. Everybody wants to manage other people and peddle the snake-oil, because the schmooze is what's ultimately remunerated.

I keep going back to this as I prep for tomorrow's presentation for high level customers. (I wonder if the big or the small bureaucracies are worse. There's nothing like working under the Napoleon complex of the small-time managerial set.) The truth is that I'm glad these guys are available to help me shovel the corporate lingo in a way that somehow satisfies the mutually exclusive demands of getting directly to the point and eliding every hint of technical information. Although I'm not sure why it takes quite so many of them. One would think that these trivial disputes in presentation style are still not so academic that they require a panel of four corporate elders to challenge the lone technical guy, especially considering I'm basically a bauble that can speak here, some token brain that can fake it long enough to lend this sales pitch credibility. These last couple of days have felt like a thesis defense that has leaked away anything to actually argue over, which, of course, stops no one from debating the quantity and depth of the bullet points--a lot of sage head-nodding about bottom-line this and what's-the-story-we're-communicating that. (There's nothing like Dilbert, or there was nothing like it ten years ago. Oxygen is good.) It's not that the technical component was all that great anyway (let me just say, thank god for competent subcontractors), because I'm not the sort of quality whore that they hire for a long slow romance, and because some portion of the fee has to go toward high-level communication too.

Anyway, this is all a complicated way of saying I'm still laying low, and it's taking a lot to keep my general pissiness in check anyway. Later in the week, I'll throw some book reviews up or something.

And if you've never heard the joke, it goes like this:

A corporation is like a tree full of monkeys. The CEO looks down from the top of the tree and sees nothing but smiling monkey faces, happily chattering swinging around from branch to branch. The board looks down and sees the same, middle management: nothing but smiling monkey faces all the way down. My bosses look down at me, and see my smiling monkey face. Looking up, I get a different view.

Be back soon.

UPDATE: Went swimmingly. Had my place in the American military-industrial machine highlighted and circled with a blue pen. Well, at least I've never made anything that enabled killing people. (And if I did, it probably didn't work.)

No comments: