Thoughts in a Meeting: A Monologue on Corporate Dysfunction


I give up. I can't listen to this anymore. You just go on and on about him. No one here likes him. He's a suckup. Suck. Up. That's what he does. He won the Thompson account? I don't think so. Their CEO can't stand him. We won it in spite of him, not because of him.

You think we don't understand how this works? We know. The ones that make the most noise are the ones that get the next promotions.

360 degree reviews? Ha. More like rubber stamps.

I thought this place would be different, but… there were signs.

That smug smile during the interview when I asked about your management style. You said you just "hire the best people and get out of their way."

Did you think that was original? I only heard it at 10 of my last 12 interviews.

I have lots of potential for advancement? Sure, if I'm willing to sacrifice my integrity to play the game.

I could be like him. I could play politics. I could intercept the good news and run to tell you before anyone else. I could blame the failures on people that aren't around or people that I know will take it. I just wouldn't be able to sleep at night.

Thirteen years.

Four companies.

It's always the same…

I like to work. I want to contribute.

Now I'm just trying to cope. All I have ever wanted was the chance to be a part of something great. But I'm not sure there is such a thing as a great company.

The system feeds on itself.

I bet that's what happened to you. You probably started here and wanted to make a difference but… over time you realized you can't. People are scared. Nobody really wants change, they only say they do. You figured that out. You probably played the game because you had to. Now you don't even remember what life is like without it.

The system ate you up.

I bet you used to think for yourself. You probably sat in meetings but couldn't get a word in. Your boss was busy so all the information he got came from the guy that talked the most. Talked about nothing, but still talked.

Sometimes nothing sounds like something. The boss thought it did, and promoted the talker. That's how the system starts. One bad egg.

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Eventually you gave in. You realized that no one wanted truth. No one cared about substance. You said nothing, but you said it so that it sounded like something. You gave the right appearance, and that's all that matters.

Now you have the position you want but… I don't know whether I feel envy or pity for you.

He'll invite us all out for drinks, now that you are promoting him. We have to go. Otherwise it looks bad. None of us want to though. We know he is your favorite.

How can you pretend that you don't play favorites? We've had six different strategies in the last two years. They all failed. Or else we didn't give them a real chance.

And who did you punish? The ones you don't like.

You let her off. You know who. It was really her fault but… you like her. You pushed the failure off on the people you thought were a threat.

The people that were better than you.

The people you should have been promoting.

(Yawn) Is this meeting almost over?

Yeah yeah, new strategy. Blah Blah Blah. You wonder why no one takes you seriously. Maybe if you took yourself seriously.

Finally. The last slide.

Our thoughts? You want our thoughts? I bet you don't get any.

I know what people are thinking. They are thinking about how to pretend to work on this until you change it and everything is moot. They are thinking about who they can blame. That's what the system teaches them to think.

Questions? Yeah, I have one. Why do we reward dysfunction?

Why doesn't anyone say what they mean or mean what they say?

Why does an honest opinion get used as a tool for corporate politics?

No, I don't have any questions. I know you only asked to be polite. I know how this game works. We're all just going through the motions.

I feel sick to my stomach.

Note: This doesn't represent any real situation, but an accumulation of bad work experiences. I just felt like writing something different.