A Brief Descent into Madness

If you have never been to a masquerade ball, then you need to get a job in Corporate America. They are basically the same thing. At a masquerade, people dress up in costumes, hide behind masks, and let their alter-egos take control. In Corporate America,  people hide behind job titles and organization charts, and they let their egos take over. A masquerade can be quite a bit of fun, if you know that it is a masquerade. But if you don’t, then the masquerade becomes a maddening descent into a nightmarish realm of the bizarre and the absurd.

My rules for surviving Corporate America serve to help remind us that working in Corporate America is like attending a masquerade. I wish I realized this before my manager invited me to a process-improvement meeting today, during which I violated at least four of my rules.

As we sat around the table, I started thinking (thus violating Rules #13a and #13b). “Isn’t it necessary to have a process that everyone follows before you can have a process improvement meeting?”

As we waited for the chairperson to show up, I asked my manager about this. He stared at me like I was from another planet.  “Of course we have a process!” He then pointed out my second violation–Rule #17a.

“If we didn’t have a process,” he explained, “then we couldn’t improve it, now could we? And if we didn’t have to improve the process, we wouldn’t have to go to this meeting. Since we are at this meeting, then this meeting must be taking place. And since this meeting is about improving a process, then the process must exist. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be at this meeting. Why do you ask such questions?”

This is when I should have kept my mouth shut. But I decided to violate Rule #1 and commit my third–and final–violation:

“Silly me,” I said. “I forgot that wishing for things to be true makes them true. I thought that only happened  in Cartoon Land!”


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