Tuesday 29 May 2012

Corporate annoyances

Sorry to get you caught up in this, internet, but I just want to express a couple of things that people commonly do in the workplace that get to me.

Do these things, don't do these things... whatever, it's your prerogative. I just want it to be on the record that I did not endorse or permit this behaviour, for when the historians are trying to work out what happened to logical thought.

Oh, and I'm not really sorry at all, actually. My bad.

1. Making up statistics on the fly

99.99% of statistics are completely fabricated.

Once upon a time, saying something like "99.99% of people..." was an acceptable tongue-in-cheek phrase to exaggerate a proliferation of a particular concept for humour. At some point, and I don't know when, it transformed into a legitimate way of estimating something based entirely on conjecture. I have witnessed, first hand, business decisions based on this form of reasoning... and it's not acceptable.

In as world where we've got more data than we can process and view, there is really no excuse for "gut-feeling" decisions that affect more than 100 people. You either have or can obtain the data you need to make the an informed decision, so use it! 

I'm being serious though, so many times I've heard:

"...but you know, only 5% of staff use it though, so..."

5% is it? Oh, really? It's fantastic that you've been able to pull that number from your arse, but I traditionally prefer to work with actual data. If you don't have and can't obtain the data for some reason, fine. Do the best you can... but don't you throw some completely unresearched statistic at me and expect me to take it for gospel, 'cause you know I'm going to ask to see the source.

2. Use of the phrase "That's thinking outside the box"

Sure, you can see the other sides now... but it's still a box.
I have no fundamental problem with the actual phrase itself; I am a big advocate of lateral thought and try to do as much of it as possible. The problem is that I may have heard it used maybe twice in my life at a point that it was actually the right thing to say.

Let me translate it for you; What people are actually saying is, "Wow, that's something I didn't think of." Which, as far as "common" sense goes isn't boasting a great deal in many circumstances. Just because you didn't think of it, doesn't necessarily make it original thought.

3. People not understanding how an email distribution list works

I see this all the time at work, and I particularly note one occasion that I saw 37 emails go back and forth. This is how it works: A bunch of email addresses are put into a list. This list is given one name, to make it easy to email the entire group at once. In my companies example, we have a distribution list for the entire company... some 35,000 people.

Okay, so what happens is every Friday, there is an internal newsletter that circulates to inform the employees of the company's news. You know, job openings, active fundraisers, good news stories etc. It only takes one genius to "Reply to All" to set it off. Something along the lines of, "When does X job close?" or, "Can I submit something to be published for next week?", and then it begins. Suddenly, a percentage of the aforementioned employees don't understand what's happening.
"Who is this guy?!" They'll ask themselves, before clicking "Reply to all" again and compounding the issue. Now, there's two emails in everyone's inbox. This just raises more questions?

"How did I become part of this conversation? Please do not include me in further correspondence."
"Why are you telling me? I've got nothing to do with this, I don't want to be in it either!"
"Everybody please clicking "Reply to All", you're bombarding the entire corporate directory with these emails."
"Who are you people?! Please remove me from this mailing list."
...and it goes on, and on.

Now, these people are obviously a little ludditish, however it's not their fault... they don't know how it works. So, who's fault is it? It's the fault of the sender. There's at least two different ways to send the email from the get-go to prevent this from happening.

  • Put the Distribution list address in the BCC field
  • Lock the Reply function of the email

So, what about you, internet? Got any others you'd like to add?


  1. I think it is about time that people stopped using the phrases "across this" or "around that" to describe comprehension of a subject. E.G. "Don't worry, Jenny from accounting is across that."

    Likewise we should probably get over using the word "space" to describe a division or work area. E.G. "There is a really positive vibe coming from the marketing space at the moment."

    Both sound retarded.

    1. Actually there's very little of the business culture that I can even stand. Everyone is either super polite, and never saying what they really want to say, or someone is in a bad mood, and the whole place is silent as a crypt.

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