The perfect game

The perfect game is one that everyone wants to play yet no one understands. And while having a job might not seem like a “game” on the surface, the fact that most people blindly play it 40 hours per week ranks it as one of the most played games of all time.

It would seem that a modern meeting is much like the Emmy Awards or a day with Congress –  everyone is showing their best and patting each other on the back, yet nothing useful is getting accomplished. Business meetings that discuss past progress and future roadmaps are supposed to share info between different groups but most people sit & stare, and don’t even take any notes. Many times these meetings seem like nothing more than a competition to see who can create the best PowerPoint presentation. Most business infrastructure diagrams only baffle the outsider with BS. So much blah, blah, blah in each presentation goes to hypnotize the viewer. If you can’t explain what you saw in a presentation, did you actually comprehend it? And if not, how are you supposed to pass this information on to your teams/employees?

“Any small start-up can disrupt our business.” This is business paranoia working it’s way through the rank & file. “It is easier to displace fragmented markets”. It may also be more profitable to design a business idea and sell it to your competition than it would be to actually get your own business up and running to the point of being an actual threat to the other business. But you have to have a solid business idea that can be run by a smaller group of people. You can’t just invent an idea, put it on paper, and sell it to the competition……. or can you?

The marketing department is there to figure out who the sales department can sell products to; they also do “market research” and “comparative analysis” of the competition, to figure out their strong & weak points. A”gap analysis” report can help show blank spots that need to be filled and then they can target those areas with a solution. Always look for the real reasons as to why the business makes a certain decision. For example, if they offer a “data backup service” for their customer’s internal information, do they really want a back-end access point to your data so they can mine it for useful bits and pieces? Remember that this is the “information age” and the old saying of “one man’s junk is another man’s merchandise” rings more true than ever before.

A small business can be more profitable (per person) because they do not have the overhead expenses of a larger company. As a company grows, so does the amount of employees and steps in hierarchy; all of which will draw from the overall profits.

“You have to spend money to make money.” There are a multitude of examples where money was spent but an increased profit was not realized, just look at Edsel for a well known example. Many times the difference is (lack of) talent or bad timing (in the market), but sometimes it just comes down to old-fashioned incompetence. Poor planning or putting the wrong person in the wrong job can cost a company everything.

“The best way to create a small fortune is to start with a large one.” Sometimes a company will guess at what their products should be priced at and often they either under value their product (thus slowly loosing profits & market share) or over value them (loosing sales entirely). Finding the exact best price point is a never ending guessing game and business analysts keep busy making “educated” guesses while the layman watches from the sidelines.

An effective manager can be successful in any company because his “skills” have nothing to do with the actual business at hand. He possesses “people skills” and can sell himself (and his perceived self-importance) to any company.  Much like the role of the marketing department, it is the role of a manager to create a need for his “skills”. If people can do their jobs effectively, then a separate manager is not needed at all.

Does a company specifically try to hire people with “type A” personalities? Is this trait actually more important than actual job knowledge? Or is this just another trait in the manager that makes him feel valued by his own existence?

Corporatocracy includes dress code, employee manual and company cheer. These things are in place to keep the employee “in line” and they have been designed to limit the company’s exposure to rogue behaviors that might (ultimately) cost the company money. But these things are advertised to the employees as ways to “unite” them and “add support” for their co-workers.

Every project is broken down to the smallest, individual tasks and everything is documented. That way employees can be swapped out as needed. A business climate that endorses “at will employment” goes a long way to enable this.

Customer surveys are written so that a positive outcome is always shown. And IF there are negatives, instead of addressing those issues, they are glossed over. Remember that the first rule of advertising is “Accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives”.

Businesses have some sneaky ways to “watch” what their customers are doing. The ability to measure trends in product sales, data usage, and lost revenue should help the business to guide their improvement efforts. They can use the metadata from web links to analyse what the customers are looking at. Customer surveys can be used to find out what they are looking for.

Every business wants to reduce overhead while increasing sales, as this is the best way to increase profit margins. Would any (sane) hourly employee work harder to achieve this, knowing that his personal income was stagnant? Yet management (who has an income with a performance bonus structure) constantly pushes for this very thing. They assume we are blindly playing the game and many times they (unfortunately) are right.

 

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How much job satisfaction does your job give you? Not just financial compensation or other non-monetary benefits (perks, vacation, insurance, etc), but how does your job improve your life and your customer’s lives? The depth (or shallowness) of your acceptance of compensation is a measure of your own values in life.

Nobody likes an open-ended story that only goes to outline the faults; that would be considered “nagging”. So here are some ideas that you can use to minimize or completely eliminate your participation in this “game”:

  • Live cheap – Anything you can do to live a frugal lifestyle will indirectly enable you to work less hours. Think about it….  you work to pay all the bills you have, so if you have less bills then you don’t need to work as much… right? It seems so simple, yet the majority of the people believe they need a house full of *stuff*, and all that stuff adds up to a lot of bills to pay.
  • Work under the table (off the books) – Some jobs pay you daily in cash and this keeps your income out of the prying eyes of the IRS. It also allows to to be more mobile because you are not tied down to one specific job at one company. Yes, your choice of jobs is going to be severely limited, only because so many employers are also “playing the game”.
  • Work an alternative job – Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip used to be a computer programmer. He was so fed up with his job that he started to draw comics, which eventually became his way OUT of the hum-drum office workplace.
  • Retire early – What good is a job that you work at the majority of your life so you can retire at a ripe old age, closer to death? Why not leave the game NOW and enjoy the world and all it has to offer sooner? If you answer “I can’t afford to retire now!” then you have completely lost yourself within the game. You need to retrain your brain and refer to everything written above.
  • Vote with your wallet and shop local – Big box stores did not pop into existence overnight and barring something catastrophic, they are not going to disappear overnight. Spend your money at smaller, independent stores and support the local economy.
  • Learn more & share information – The internet is the perfect anti-game, but only if you use it wisely. Sure, almost everyone likes watching endless hours of funny cat videos, but in comparison, how is that any different from the mindless hours of dribble that is spewed out of your television? But if you use sites like Google, Youtube, Webmd, etc wisely, you will find a wealth of information that used to cost a fortune in years gone by.
  • Learn a trade – The “craftsman” is a dying breed of people in the world. Someone who takes pride in their workmanship, someone who has intimate knowledge in their craft, someone who wants to pass that knowledge on to the next generation. In our current world, every task is broke down to the smallest minutia and then a fee is assessed for that one small step. Not only have our jobs been “dumbed down”, so have we.
  • Don’t play the game at all – Yes, this idea was much easier 100 years ago, before the days of The Federal Reserve, the 40 hour work week, large corporations, privatized food farms, and a debt based economy. But it’s not impossible to achieve, even today. All of the suggestions shown above are small steps that build up to a new reality.
  • Replace the system – Buckminster Fuller is often quoted as saying:bucky and this is where you can take an active role at changing your own future. Changing an established system is “the hard way” and most likely, you will fail. But every step you take in the opposite direction gets you one step farther from the things that are working against you. If everyone is trying to get in your wallet, then you should work to place as much distance between them and you as possible. Most people can’t even imagine a system different from what we currently have, but it is possible. A Resource Based Economy is just one possible future that we can all work towards.

It’s time to get mad and take control of your future…..

 

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About hemibill

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One Response to The perfect game

  1. Pingback: The “game” of capitalism | Hemibill's Blog

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