To what extent are corporations run on Bullshit?

Whilst browsing the university bookshop I spotted an interesting book in the window - The Dictionary of Bullshit: Self-defence for English Speakers By Nick Webb (2005, Robson Books Ltd). Of particular note is an introductory chapter called "A theory of bullshit" and the first proper chapter entitled "Corporate bullshit: Let me share this with you".

Only got it a few hours ago and just thought it would be a good blog entry, even if the idea of the book isn't that new. The introductory chapter distinguishes between bullshit with a small "b" - amusing and relatively harmless. To bullshit with a capital "B" - describes words and phrases informed by a world view which may not be understood by the user. If you don't know where this is heading consider the following quote from Webb's book:

"Capital 'B' Bullshit is weapons grade. It is ingrained so deeply that it affects the speaker's ability to think clearly. That lack of focus is part of the seduction; we don't always want to be able to tell ourselves with unforgiving claritywhat we're doing. Much Bullshit diffuses personal responsibility. Over the years its moral content has leaked away like air from a slow puncture."

Now for some examples of corporate bullshit. After reading them imagine what working life would be like with all the bullshit stripped away. I can't imagine how corporations would survive!

Core values (n./jargon) This is flattering, for it presupposes that the corporation has values.

Get with the program (v./threat) Do what you are told.

Knowledge management (np.) Fancy filing, lots of meetings

MBA (acronym) Master of Business Administration. Otherwise known as More Bullshit from America.

On-the-job training (np.) Throw them in and see if they drown

Proactive (n.) So much more than just doing something...

Public Relations/PR (np.) Satan was not so bad; he just suffered from a bad press. Corporations are similar. It's easier to fix perceptions of the problem than the problem itself.

Shed labour (v.) Fire lots of people. The expression has the virtue of sounding nonestly heartless.

Sub-optimal (n./jargon) Pretty crap really

Word hard, play hard (macho cliche) Heard on the lips of executives who reckon they droit de seigneur over the sexier junior staff. Oddly, most of them don't work hard.


Barnze said...

Nice one!

Anonymous said...

Corporate values??? all words no action for some organizations. Nice to have if they apply to everyone in the organization. How about the married CEO who is have a secret affair and part of an ethics committee. When will the government fine them for a change??? the middle-tier needs to wake up and stand up to these folks who instill fear because of all the skeltons in their closet. One such person is the CEO of Lloyd Staffing..interesting the ethics committee has not gotten wind of his skeltons on company time no less..secret affair while married and abusive of power. Now the government needs to make him an example like Martha Stewart!!!!

Anonymous said...

Nick Webb is a right down genius. My new guru.