Wednesday, 25 July 2007

My hovercraft is full of eels...

As a consultant, I'm used to navigating through minefields of vacuous phrases and management-speak. However, the programme on which I work at the moment has over its lifetime invented a whole new language.

Thus:

Things that need to be done are grouped into workstreams, each of which has a range of solution options. Groupings of solution options (one per workstream) form programme portfolios. TWAs (three word acronyms) intractable to anyone but those entrenched in the programme abound, but no phrasebook has yet been developed for the uninitiated. This programme is certainly no paragon of plain english, but this much seems to be par for the course large programmes which have festered for a few years, and being a consultant, I adopt a flexible approach to my understanding of such phrases - one man's solution option is another man's work package. If these things are defined in context, and their meaning is understood, I will use them.

However, one chap with whom I currently work has developed a range of vacuous and unfathomable metaphors which are particularly worthy of comment. Following a watershed moment last week in which it was evident that a large chunk of work performed to date has been of dubious quality, he described the situation in the following terms:

On Monday, as a train whose wheels had come off, was now in a siding, not quite yet at Clapham, had been shunted down the line a bit but wasn't a total wreck.

Yesterday, we discovered that we had a "ravine problem". This is one in which we were 80% of the way to building a bridge across a ravine (or as I would put it, finding some solutions to the problem that the programme is meant to be fixing), but that 80% is totally useless until you've got the final 20%.

Today, we apparently find ourselves in trucks heading to the front line, and not being able to be part of the battle because we hadn't yet reached the bridge.

Confused? So am I. Utter meaningless rubbish, isn't it? So, today's Monty Python Hungarian Phrase Book* prize for clear communications goes to this rather charming and imaginative chap at work.

This reminds me, Pixie has very kindly nominated me (and many others) for a bright pink Rockin' Girl Blogger award. Despite never knowingly rockin', I accept. I shall not be making future nominations, not because you don't rock (or aren't girls) but because being a classical violinist by training, I feel somewhat under qualified to pass comment. Instead, I shall at some point over the coming weeks bore you all silly with the saga of my new violin.



*A sketch in which the phrase "My hovercraft is full of eels" is provided as the translation for "I would like to buy some matches", and "My nipples explode with delight" is a suggested response to being dragged away by a policeman.

8 comments:

knicksgrl0917 said...

hey! i'm going to cali this weekend and won't be back until september...here is the website i was talking about where i made extra summer cash. Later! the website is here

DJ Kirkby said...

Ooooh yes please tell me about your violin playing! I have given you a thoughtful blogger award, come and collect it.

But Why? said...

Hmmm...

Knicksgrl0917 - did you try to sell me t-shirts in Portugese in a former life? You're going away? I shall miss you immeasurably...

dj,

Thankyou, thankyou - both for the award and for giving me a mandate to ramble at length about the as yet nameless violin. I can hardly wait!!! Heading over now...

But xx

Pixie said...

There is something wrong with my brain, as not only didn't I understand the metaphors, so far so good, but I didn't understand your language either!
Oh dear repeat after me you are a ditz, pixie.
My pleasure to give you an awarde.. enjoy!
px

But Why? said...

Pixie,

Sweet, sweet Pixie... I have no idea what is going on with the metaphors, either. All I know is that it's all very broken and the guy with the metaphors can't fix it. There's certainly a broken brain somewhere but I think the evidence would not be pointing towards yours. Apologies for filling my blog full of work-speak - yesterday was a metaphor too far for even so placid a soul as myself to contain the absurdity without having to later regurgitate it onto my blog.

Oh dear, what have I done??

But xx

trousers said...

Surely you can give out rockin girl blogger nomination thingies, blogging is a level playing-field after all, even if you just do it as a sidebar Damn I was trying to go into a stream of corporate bullshit but that pathetic attempt was all I could manage).

Still, I'm glad that knicksgrl0917 has FINALLY shown us the link to that website she was talking about. I feel so much better for knowing that a means to extra summer cash is only a click away...

Gary said...

Send the buggah up to Leeds, we'll sort him out :)

Yorkshire - where you don't talk bollacks.

But Why? said...

Trousers,

I have to say that, for me, it's a more of a ravine problem than a level playing field...

Oh dear, it's the weekend and I'm still talking borrowed bollox.


Gary,

Would you really? Can I send him to you in the post for fixing? He'll be easy to hit, as he'll be too busy finding your accent hilarious to be able to defend himself.

Oh dear, oh dear - I don't usually advocate use of physical violence to solve problems. It must reflect the magnitude of the ravine we're in...

xx