Corporate Humor

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Some times I wish I was more talented or focused or something because I might just have been able to make this writing thing work.  At times, I can just be so inspired and ideas just flow and I think something would make a great story or video but then life happens and I just move on.  This is the story of one such idea.  Maybe it isn’t so great – but it sure seemed funny at the time.

First, I must set the stage.

There is a large meeting next week where our head guy in charge speaks to the troops.  Rumors are running rampant that one topic will be staffing cuts.  Or headcount reductions.  Or downsizing.  Or rightsizing.  Basically, we figure they have to start firing people and soon to improve the bottom line so this might be the meeting where they finally confirm what we’ve long suspected.

As the rumors fly, people have different reactions.  For some, the stress level goes way up and they spend all day in a tizzy about what might happen.  Some go into a state of denial and just refuse to talk about it and act like nothing is going to happen.  Others just kind of take an attitude that whatever happens it is all for the best so there is no reason to worry about it.  And, some, like me, resort to gallows humor whenever possible.  Because, when you work in the corporate world, sometimes you just have to laugh.

I’ve been through a few of these and there is no good way to announce mass firings.  So I was talking with a couple of other long timers about the things we’ve seen.  And, naturally, the subject turned to how they decide who stays and who goes.  At first the discussion was serious and then a roulette wheel was mentioned and I just went off and started building that into a story.

Picture a large auditorium – how about exactly like the set of the Price is Right with people crammed into their seats.  A disembodied voice off set tells someone to come on down and they head to the stage where they are greeted by a smiling game show host type who spouts a stream of corporate speak about how this is all in keeping with the mission of the company to treat people fairly but to deal with the harsh business realities.  (We have an executive who is really a nice guy but seriously reminds me of a game show host which is where I pulled this idea from)

The curtain opens and you see a large wheel with several spaces.  Originally, I was thinking there would be spaces to determine when they were going to fire you (immediately, six months, one year, etc) because that is how it has been done in the past.  But, for sake of the story, let’s just assume it is divided into sections saying “stay” or “go”.  It would probably be better to have something more corporate speak but, as I said, I didn’t fully flesh this out.  Our game show CEO explains the rules and that a certain percentage of the company must be lost so that the entire company can remain strong and what better and more fair way to do then with a game of chance.  Spin the wheel, determine your fate.

You could even have him do a little light banter with the lucky contestant.  “How long have you worked here?”  “Are you prepared to be rightsized for the company?”  And of course, the audience would be cheering and clapping because they would be the mindless corporate drones that any large company would love.  As the wheel is spun, the tension builds and the crown cheers – until it stops.

Get “stay” and you get escorted off the stage by two pretty girls (or pretty guys if you prefer) and get a seat in the open area reserved for those who will be part of the new company.  Get “go” and you get that wonderful game show music wah-wah and the CEO game show host puts on a mock sorry face and tells you how awful he feels but that he’s sure you’ll find other opportunities outside the company.

Instead of the pretty girls/guys, you are lead over to a stern faced executive type (the game show host is good CEO, this guy is the executioner/bad CEO).  The game show CEO happily says that there are parting gifts and asks the voice to explain them.  You get a box with some of your belongings already packed and a cookie with the company logo.  (I didn’t come up with the cookie but it worked because they company likes to use sweet treats as rewards)

The stern face guy leads you off the stage as you clutch your box of stuff and cookie.  They strip you of your company badge and any other company stuff and hand you the paper to sign and then you get kicked out the door into the cold.

The audience maintains a respectful silence until the CEO game show host says “Tell us who our next contestant is?”  A name is called and there is cheering and the process repeats.

Trust me, it was funny at the time but it may have lost something in the translation.  There are be plot holes – how could they possibly have packed boxes for each employee so there would be stuff to work on.  Still, as an idea, it had a lot of potential.

And it did help to make light of what is not a real pleasant time at work right now.



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