Thursday, September 19, 2002

The futility of success

Whilst I don’t work in the world’s largest company, I work in one that acts like it is. We are currently going through a business process re-engineering project and a new IT system implementation. We’ve employed a recently re-branded expensive management consultancy and huge software vendor to build the systems we need to support the processes that drive our core business.

Jesus, I’m boring myself writing this stuff.

Re-engineering a business process is fundamentally about the manipulation of people, and the reconstruction of their values. It is therefore morally corrupt, business is morally corrupt, but this is morally corrupter. It is designed to change the way people think. Business in general does the same, but at least as a customer you can choose not to think in the way you are told to. In companies, if you don’t play the game, you’re fired. The members of the project team are at the sharp end of this corruption, acting as the faceless mouthpiece of the corporate ideal. Anarchists, opportunists and independent spirits need not apply.

Whilst I accept that it pays the mortgage and looks great on the CV, is this what they really wanted? Did they want to re-engineer business processes when they were teenagers. Did their hopes, dreams, ambitions and desires centre on the opportunity to “Reduced Unit Cost Delivery Processes”?

I’m sure they are all decent people, all immaculately turned out in their crisp suits droning on in front of their slick PowerPoint presentations about “Out of the Box IT solutions” and “To Be Business Processes”. But do they get home, drop their slim line laptops onto the settee, kick-off their polished uncomfortable shoes, sink to their knees and sob “It was never supposed to be like this”?

What is it like to succeed in something you never wanted to succeed in?


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