Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In flight from excellence

The word of the day is excellence :

1. the state of being superior and without equal 2. something many people and companies say they expect/offer/won’t accept anything but, that is revealed as being really cheap currency when you live on planet earth and observe the people who actually work at companies — like Brad, who still doesn’t know how to transfer a call even though he’s been an administrative assistant for two years; or Linda, who assaults her coworkers with visible grandma panty lines every day of the week; or Nick, the charming department head who manages up like a champ while things rot from the inside out 3. a laughable hyperbole encouraged by consultants, gurus, and guest speakers 4. in reality, the thing people should stop shooting for, because making things just kind of okay would be really good start. Enough with the excellence and perfection, all right?
These definitions are from Lois Beckwith’s The Dictionary of Corporate Bullshit (New York: Broadway Books, 2006). I’ve omitted the boldface for several cross-referenced terms. I had to look up one: manage up , placing the needs of one’s superior above all else.

It no longer surprises me that the vocabulary sets of academia and corporate life should be so difficult to distinguish.

[Lois Beckwith is a pen name of Mimi O’Connor.]

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