Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Say What…?

Like a lot of people in my hometown I recently received my 2012 Village Newsletter in the mail.  And unlike a lot of people in my hometown, I actually read the thing…or tried to read the thing.

But it was difficult…at least the report entitled “Assuring the Future: Managing growth for livability, sustainability and safety” was difficult; at least for me.

Any title that has any kind of “-ability” word in it, let alone two, is usually difficult for me. But I don’t have an MBA. I only have a BS in Communications (which speaks for itself and is open to several interpretations) and a BA in psychology (which also speaks for itself, but is way too judgmental and never shuts up).

And no, it wasn’t because I was looking at the Spanish version by mistake.  I actually figured that out by the fourth paragraph. This was the full blown English version, a language I utilize every day…well, except for Tuesdays; on Tuesdays I speak a language of my own design, which, other than making it difficult to order coffee at the Diner, makes me feel special.

But I digress….

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the hard work that went in to the report, or that I take issue with its message or intent…I don’t. The bottom line is: it’s a positive message.  It’s just the way in which it was conveyed, namely, in a blizzard of corporate mumbo jumbo.

Granted, I freelance in this particular area so I’m a little sensitive to this type of thing.  Or you could say my sensitivablity is way too high. Mostly because I come across it all the time, and it makes me a little nutty…you know, aside from all the other things.  

They’re usually written by some well-meaning, corporate bureaucrat (not that there’s anything wrong with that) that’s assigned the chore, and whose task it becomes to communicate the importance of the topic at hand without revealing too much information, while making it sound like a lot of information, and by, most importantly, making it sound smart.

Even worse, these communications are sometimes written by committee, whereby several corporate bureaucrats (again, not that there’s anything wrong with that, either) all want to sound smarter than each other.

In either case, what usually happens is you end up with a document, such as this one, that causes your brain to stick by the third paragraph, like a needle on a broken record…or if you’re not old enough to get that reference…like that time you dropped your iPod in your soup, dude.

Either way, your stickabilty quotient is through the roof.

Other hallmarks of these types of things are a lot of words such as synergies, disciplines, cohesion, functions and work flow.

Words you use every day…like when you’re synergizing your linen closet or institutionalizing those paisley ties you like so much.

But I did get through the report…eventually, after a few readings, over several days, and a consultation with several noted cryptologists.

The first thing we were able to determine was that it was about growth…mostly because it’s in the title and the header and used another 8 times in the first 4 paragraphs. 

Not sure what kind of growth…but it’s some kind…and I’m sure it’s good, because all growth is good….


I mean unless its negative growth, which is what my doctor told me is happening to my spine.

So that’s bad.

It also seems that a bunch of departments that had previously worked at cross purposes are being re-organized into one.

The report states:

“Historically, an informal working relationship existed between each of these disciplines. Unfortunately, that informality often resulted in inefficiency and lack of cohesion among the functions.”

I guess that means people were showing up to work in flip flops and shorts, which made it hard to concentrate because they couldn’t get the picture of all those hairy legs and toes out of their heads. 

Somehow, this also lead to their functions becoming unglued, which, as you know, if you’ve ever had that experience, is embarrassing.

Of course there’s a reference to “developing an effective team orientation”, which is always nice because of the cool t-shirts and caps that come along with that. This is usually followed by some sort of reference to “methodology”, which I believe is the church that John Travolta belongs to. Not sure what that has to do with anything, but hey…it’s Travolta.

Then there’s stuff about intra-office coordination—such as who gets to use the good stapler and when—plus formalizing work flows…so there isn’t another embarrassing situation like when two people both brought in cakes for the Mayor’s birthday.

Throw in a snappy little flow chart that indicates a bunch of arrows chasing each other around a circle all held together by a bunch of broken chain links…and you’ve got yourself one confusing message.

But the message is so simple:

·         We know, for a lot of reasons, things weren’t running too smoothly in the past…but now, we’re committed to fixing that.

·         We’ve brought in some smart new people with fresh ideas and innovative technologies to help reorganize departments and find better ways to work together.

·         Progress has already been made in many areas, but we know there’s still much more to do to meet the needs of the community in a timely and efficient manner.

·         We’re focused and ready to take this Village well into the 21st century and beyond.

·         That’s our goal and that’s your future.

It’s a good message… a real good message.

And everyone should be able to understand that….without a cryptologist.

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