|Image [cc] Pierre-Olivier|
C'est la vie!
Sometimes I get words or phrases that pop into my head for no particular reason and they just sit there, staring at me, expectantly, like hungry orphans begging to be used in a sentence. Usually such a phrase would hang out and taunt me, until I would suddenly drop them into conversation in the lunchroom or at a bar. That almost never went well, in the former location my conversant would assume I had been drinking and in the latter they would assume I was drunk. But for this rare occasion, the phrase in question ended up as the title to this guest blog post – graciously published by the 3 Geeks. The phrase came to me fully formed in the middle of a marathon conference call the other day and it would not leave me alone. I wrote it on a legal pad, but that apparently was not enough because it just kept haunting me. So I put it at the top of a word document in 18 point type and began to write.
What does the Infinite Viscosity of Managerial Brain Droppings mean? I know what infinite means, and I kind of understand viscosity, thanks to a basic physics course in high school and that old oil commercial. Managerial is self-explanatory, but Brain Droppings was a George Carlin book from the mid-90s and while I loved Carlin’s stand-up, I’m pretty sure I never read his book.
I think the phrase has something to do with the ability of a person in charge to muck up an engine of innovation, creativity, or progress with a single off-hand comment about an almost entirely irrelevant subject. Now, to be fair, this is not a failing of management. Typically, management is blissfully unaware of the chaos they’ve caused amongst the drone workers in the bowels of the organization. Persons in charge have no idea that their every utterance is pounced upon by the unwashed masses like manna from heaven. They don’t realize that each syllable is parsed and dissected to tease every last drop of nuance and meaning from its grammatical marrow. A single guttural “ha!” from the right mouth at the wrong time can send a project into months of revisions and way over budget without anyone on the project team realizing that the manager just finally understood the “knock knock” joke his 5 year old daughter told him the night before and hadn’t actually listened to a word of the presentation they had given.
Thankfully, there is a very simple solution to this particular problem. All it takes is one brave soul to stand up and loudly inquire, “WTF are you talking about!? And as a follow-up… Do you have any &*!#$* idea what is going on at all? I mean really, DO YOU!?” But no one ever does that. Instead we schedule meetings. Meetings to determine the take-aways from the meeting we just finished, before we head to the next meeting to discuss our plans for diminishing the average number of meetings we currently hold. And the cycle continues…
I beg of you. If you are a worker drone, please ignore all brain droppings from management. It encourages them to think and it only slows the rest of us down.