Bottom falls out of the bullshit

It's not just IT and conventional industry that's experiencing unprecedented change. The bullshit sector is turning over bullshit...

It's not just IT and conventional industry that's experiencing unprecedented change. The bullshit sector is turning over bullshit as never before

The bullshit business has seen dot-coms, ASPs and WAP puffed up into gigantic bubbles and then deflated, all in not much more than a year. That's an apocalyptic rate of change by any standard, even the bullshit benchmark. Time was when a decent piece of business bullshit could be expected to last two or three, even five years.

Remember Tom Peters and his 'In Search Of Excellence'? That hit industry like a global tidal wave and produced an excellence training industry that lasted for years and years. Certainly, it was a good five years before anyone pointed out that the companies he'd cited as heralding the future direction of business had almost all gone bust. Anyway, Tom, who's no fool, went on to focus on 'wow', a distinctly less definable and measurable concept.

We need more of that sort of genius if the bullshit business is to keep up with the rate of change and not lose the ear of top management. A recent Business Week article shows the dangers only too clearly.

It forecast that leading businesses in the 21st century will be 'gargantuan in size, scope and complexity'. I know about gargantuan complexity. If you've ever looked through a 20 year-old Cobol program that's been patched twice a year ever since, you'll know what I mean. The beauty being hinted at, I think, is that with companies like that you'll never know (and neither will they) whether they're doing good business or not, or even whether they're still in business at all. Superficially it could be a good idea, but the dot-com phenomenon has introduced a lot of scepticism into the market. I'm not sure the idea will fly.

Another Business Week argument is that outsourcing and partnering will become more crucial. That's a rather tired idea, in my view. All it comes down to is that these old ideas will eventually, one way or another, be made to work. There's not much bullshit mileage in that.

The same goes for the idea of 'intellectual capital'. In fact, the Business Week article contradicts itself in saying this is going to be key but, at the same time, there'll be no time for deliberation because things will be moving so fast. 'Hire the best brains but don't use them to think,' seems to be the message. I don't think that's opaque enough for sustainable bullshit.

To be fair, the idea of 'management by the Web' has more potential. I like the 'flat, intricately woven form' which is apparently part of this. It sounds as though you ought to know what it means but probably need a conference and seminar or two, or maybe some consultancy and an authoritative book, to sort out how you use it.

So let's get real: the bullshit sector is in a bit of a crisis. If new paradigms (lovely word still!) are going to get deflated at the rate they have been recently, we need a new Tom Peters. How about 'In Search Of Bezazz'...?

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