From my school days, the branch of Math called Geometry has been fascinating as well as frightening depending on whether I was preparing for a test or not. The corporate world, ever the innovative busy bee that it is, has added significant new dimensions (pun intended) to this science, never ever dreamt of by Euclid, Archimedes and others.
From the shape, circle, comes the concept of going round in circles, the well known form of corporate dance that maintains a facade of carrying out various (usually repetitive) actions without making any progress on the issue involved. For example, in preparation for a major presentation to senior management the following month, the departmental manager assembles his staff every day and talks about what could go wrong during the presentation, what unexpected questions might be asked, who in senior management might get a bad impression and so on. Having spent all available time in preparing for defense against imaginary ghosts, he makes no worthwhile points about the achievements of the department during the actual presentation – thus paving the way for the very reaction from senior management that he was trying to prevent!
There are other aspects of geometry that have made their way into corporate speak – scalable model, cutting corners, going full circle (aka back to square one) and throwing a curve ball to name a few. But the one concept that is used to telling effect as a strategy of evasion and diversion is the act of sending others on a ‘tangential’ path.
Let us follow the conversation at a high-level (‘C’ Level, if you will) meeting in a global organization.
Dan (CEO): How are we doing with Sales this month?
Mary (VP, Sales): We are doing OK, Dan. Have had a few hiccups in the North due to transportation issues but …..
Dan: What transportation issues? Let us get a fix on them.
Tom (Director, Transportation): The fleet company we use to move our goods has had problems due to …….
Dan: I cannot have an outside fleet company hold us to ransom. Let us explore the option of acquiring and managing our own trucks. Jon, can you initiate a study to explore this?
Jon (CFO): Well, Dan, we did some analysis five years ago through a study we conducted with …….
Dan: I don’t want excuses. Get an external, professional company to do a fresh study. I want to fix the problem (even though I don’t know if there is a problem). I want all the attendees in this room to form a Committee and submit a feasibility report in two weeks.
Tom: Dan, what I meant to say was ……
Dan: Tom, it is not your problem. No one is blaming you. Jon, get cracking on finding a consultant to start the study immediately.
Later, in the corridor……
Mary: I never said or implied that transportation issues affected our sales last month.
Tom: Jon, I only meant to say we were not paying our transporter on time and that we should clear their dues immediately.
Jon (sigh..): And now we have this unwarranted study on our hands.