Once upon a time, not so long ago, I took a job with the consulting arm of a large corporation. Y2K was close, but hadn’t hit yet, and among other things, we solved Y2K problems! So there was an omnipresent din as you went about your day, generated by forklifts moving huge pallets of money around in the back.
(Once, very recently, there was a day when a face, a semester of COBOL in college, and the stones to say so made you a $250/hr. Y2K consultant.)
I was happy only until I got oriented. I spent most of my time there badly underused (and sadistically micromanaged when I did have something to do). But I did meet some good people.
The best friend I made was Raymond. We were colleagues in Education Services, with similar wits, senses of humor, and demeanors. We were a formidable creative force. I don’t want to get off in the weeds talking about mind melds and such, but that’s how it felt. What we did together was always so much more than the sum of what we did apart.
So I dare say we were natural choices to write our department’s mission statement. Some mid-level drone thousands of miles away had read an article or something, so now everyone in the company had to have one.
Before we started, we decided to have a little fun with it. So we took five or ten minutes and wrote the most jargon-filled, buzzword-stuffed nonsense the world had ever seen. I mean, we’re talking more bullshit per column inch than the shipping reports from all the manure plants in Oklahoma.
Alas, a complete copy of said statement does not survive. But the first part of it was “Education Services will matrix its synergistic paradigms cross-departmentally, maximizing return on concurrent threads of e-collaboration…” And it went on about that long again. “Ha ha!” we thought. “Our boss will love this!” So we clicked Send and went to work on the real statement.
Well, she really did love it. And her boss loved it. And his boss loved it. Suddenly Raymond and I were sitting at a conference room table talking about that stupid mission statement in an oh-so-important way, about what we should do next and the like. One or the other of us pried the word “refine” in there somewhere, so we did get the opportunity to tone it down just a little bit. But what started as our joke did indeed become the department’s mission statement.
Cynical? Who, me?