Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Dead Season

Well, I was literally dead for a couple of days - most of us tend to do that over long holidays like this one. But it was an opportunity to catch up on some stuff as well - mostly the Change management that I never really got into. Went into the doctor this morning and Had two oranges and a red. Not good, by any means, but not that bad. There's hope.

Friday, December 24, 2004


What do Lyrans think of Christmas? What do you think they think of Christmas? Bah, humbug! as one Lyran-inspired fictional character said.
But at least there's a good side to Christmas 0 western nations are bankrupting themselves even faster, so we can go home more quickly. Here is one amazing story saying this country will be spending £30Bn on Christmas this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Lyran Proverbs

He's right, of course. Out of curiosity I looked through a (Lyran-republished) book of proverbs from the Old Planet. Guess what the first three were?

  • A penny saved is an end in itself.
  • Those who can, do. Those who can't, become management consultants and make more money.
  • A fool and his money are only parted if an accountant is not available.
Oh well.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sometimes I Hate this Organisation.

"What's this?" I said to 718, brandishing the tickets. " I thought you said Business Class over two hours?"
"That was the idea, yes. You'll remember that we were worried earthlings would sue us if they thought they might suffer from DVT. But Lyrans don't have that problem."
"But we were all.."
"No, we found a way round that. We're using a Lyran-owned travel firm now, and we've just put a code string in the booking to identify Lyrans, who don't need Business Class. Unless of course you're traveling with an earthling and it would look odd. Saves us a packet of money."
He looked at me with the weariness of one who has been dealing with angry Lyran business travelers since Alcock and Brown first crossed the Atlantic. He's been trying to move jobs since 1961.
"But look", I said "we are, you know, actually rolling in money, aren't we? How many billions of pounds do we have in the bank? What's the point in saving candle-ends?"
He looked at me sadly. "Come on, 2508, what's the basic rule of Lyran life? What's the thing we teach our children. What's the single rule that our clones in government and industry always apply? What was written in the Town Hall of every settlement on Lyra?"
"Oh" I said. "I see." He nodded.
"If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing as cheaply as possible."
Sometimes I hate this organisation.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Big meeting today about Deliverables after the US election. There's a team going next week to tell Bush and co what they have to do to earn the money we paid them. (I was there in case GM foods came up, but it didn't. Nobody cares about GM foods any more: we'll all starve to death on the way back). The main Deliverable, obviously, is a continuation of the war in Iraq. According to 752, one of our most distinguished economists, the war alone could bankrupt the US by the next Presidential election. He said that the extra costs of about $100Bn dollars a year will push the economy beyond the point where it can ever pay the money it's borrowed back. At that point the dollar will collapse. He may well be right - 752 has been responsible for workstream 14 since 1943. That involved stopping sensible Keynesian economics (he led the team which murdered Keynes in 1945) and replacing it with market lunacy in an attempt to destroy western economies. You can't say he wasn't successful: he still personally manages about fifteen clones in Finance ministries around the world.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tiger Teams

Several people have written to ask whether "Tiger Team" is a straight translation from the Lyran like most other management jargon. Yes and no. In old Lyran villages there was always a threat from a type of monster with black and gold stripes, which used to terrorise the region, destroy crops, kill domestic animals etc. So the strongest and bravest entities in the village would get together and hunt down and destroy the beast (like most Lyran words, you can't even spell the name in English much less pronounce it.) Unlike a tiger (which it superficially resembles) the beast used to walk on its hind legs, and could bounce great distances when it was excited, making it difficult to catch. This, of course, was the inspiration for A A Milne's Tygger in the Winnie-the-Poo books (Milne was actually a Lyran entity and the book itself is largely a translation), and decades later a Lyran management consultant who remembered the book came up with the name "Tiger Team". So there you are.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Strategic Planning

Sorting out some books this weekend, I came across Mintzberg's Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. This caused a huge fuss when it came out a decade ago, and there was a special task Force set up to look at ways of suppressing the book. What made it worse was that most of his examples were taken from big US companies which we took over in the 1950s and 60s and were then driving into the ground. But as usual we needn't have worried: earthlings - business earthlings anyway - are like sheep and will believe anything as long as everybody else does. So strategic planning has gone from strength to strength ever since. Amazingly, 1395, who works mostly with the government, was telling me that government departments have recently adopted strategic planning as well, just when everyone else is giving it up. That's something we never expected: businessmen are stupid, but you might have though people who work for the government would have more sense.