Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Corporate Fictions

So we had some training last week. The topic isn't really that important, but I kept hearing the trainer stressing a word that comprises a corporate fiction and always grinds my gears - that word is "team".

Let me just say it: a workforce is not a "team". There is no way that the group that comprises an entire company can any way be thought of as a team. If language is a virus, there are plenty of words and phrases used in corporations that are a plague and serve no other function but to cloud thought, ala Orwell. No amount of bullshit and constant reiteration is going to make a thinking person believe that this is an apt comparison.

1. People aren't compensated the same, and even if the "team" "wins", the "team owner", "head coach" and "assistant coaches" (AKA board members, CxOs, VPs, executives) run off with the lion's share of the compensation, even if many "star players" do most of the real work. I realize that in sports, compensation is not equal either, but clear performance is tied to clear compensation over the long haul.

2. No independent parties are measuring all the stats of all the "team" members, so there's another hole in this stupid analogy.

3. CxOs, etc. are often included in this nebulous and silly idea of a "team". Again, stretching this analogy that was only barely believable in the first place beyond the point of farce.

Here's another fiction - when some individuals at some companies behave as if technical staff (i.e., developers) cannot understand "business". This is truly absurd. Virtually anyone adult can understand financial matters - doesn't everyone balance a checkbook? I'm not saying that technical staff would necessarily excel at business or would even want to, and the "want to" is the driving part. Let's make a deal - I won't pretend what I do is some Great Mystery if these lunkheads that are doing basic math to balance the books or come up with a business plan don't pretend they are doing something Grand and Mysterious that mere mortal "technical staff" cannot understand. Remember, business courses and the like are what failed computer science people usually end up majoring in. I've never seen a failed business major drop out and take engineering or computer science.

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