Their voices screamed out from the shadows. He ignored them and quickened his pace. The last thing he wanted was an altercation in the middle of the street. He rushed to the waiting cab and heaved a sigh of relief.
As the cab made its way out of the IT park, he opened his laptop. There were a few changes to be made to the Excel file that he was working on. It had to be sent to the client for approval. While the company fancifully called it analysis, it was mere entry of data and an extra dose of formatting to the cells in the spreadsheet.
By now he could do this in his sleep, and his attention slowly wandered. As he stared out of the window, he saw an array of billboards displaying a large number of products. The sight of them gave him the creeps. For he was now sure that there was no escape. He couldn’t run away forever. His body shook violently and his eyes involuntarily closed.He knew the voices would reach out to him now.
He did not know for how long he had kept his eyes shut. As he opened them, he realised that it was pitch dark. His eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and he tried to figure out where the hell he was.
It seemed like a giant establishment with people constantly hustling. They seemed like people but what were they doing in the dark? The entire structure seemed to be built on a graveyard. For he could still read the names of some of them, though the gravestones had begun to crack and fade into nothingness.
His own movements seemed almost mechanical. His feet just seemed to be taking him somewhere and his head felt strangely empty. It was as though the brain had stopped functioning or had been plugged elsewhere. A mechanical beep signalled that he was now authorised to enter this establishment.
As he walked down the path, voices from the underground hissed…’Traiiiitorrrrr’……!
He ignored them and walked on.
Eventually he settled down on what was supposedly his workstation. The drill for the night had begun.
His first task for the night demanded that he analyse the competition in his domain. He meticulously began with a 5 point agenda for the same.
A voice whispered to him “Skip all this, we will tell the client that you can be billed for $2 per hour. No other company would stoop so low. This would seal the deal and render any other competition insignificant “
The deal was won. Somewhere the gravestone of Michael Porter cracked.
The next task involved interviewing a candidate for a position in the establishment. On being asked why he wanted to be part of the establishment, the interviewee expressed his desire to feel respected and to be given a chance to explore his full potential.
“You mean Esteem and Self- Actualisation? Sorry, our establishment doesn’t cater to those needs of an individual. We ensure that these kind of needs are rendered useless in this establishment. Sorry you are rejected” he said.
The candidate left with a sunken face. Somewhere the gravestone of Maslow cracked.
The third task for the day involved mapping an individual to a project. As the expectations of the role were being discussed and the competencies were being mapped to the needs, he raised his hand and said “ But surely we aren’t doing this. Achievement arises from affiliation with those in power. Competency is irrelevant in the face of all this. That ought to be enough motivation. Stop treating people as individuals. They are mere ‘resources’.
Somewhere else the gravestone of David McCllelland cracked.
The final task for the day involved a review meeting with his superior. They were to discuss the team performance and suggest ways to increase the operational efficiency . As he began his presentation with graphs and charts, his manager blatantly ignored his analysis and asked him to come up with something else. “But why??I am right with my analysis” he said indignantly. The manager looked at him condescendingly and said “ You are our biggest constraint. I am merely exploiting you.”
The gravestone of Goldratt burst into a million fragments.
He had spent the nine mandated hours in office. Another electronic beep signalled that he could now leave the establishment. Strangely his head felt heavy. As though the brain had been plugged back in.
Was all of this a dream? Was it a nightmare? Was he merely hallucinating? He now knew the source of those voices that shrieked at him every now and then.
He would never know.
As he alighted from his cab and turned to pay the driver the fare, the driver remarked “You corporates keep our business going. Are you a software engineer Sir?”
He smiled. His conscience pricked him. Yet he unabashedly said “ I am a B-School graduate working as a consultant here. I finished my engineering and pursued my MBA.”
“All the same” said the driver.
For the corporate world believed that anyone could be anything irrespective of their backgrounds. You would earn the tag of being ‘flexible’ then.
The 4Ps of marketing were reduced to a single P.The P which represented a ‘Project’ and rendered anything and everything else related to an individual’s competency useless.
The farce would continue.
A farce that promised a hefty pay cheque at the end of every month for selling your soul ‘flexibly’.