How would a corporate organisation go about cutting pizza?
There is a new catering service recently hired for our office canteen. They seem to be a very professional, experienced and elaborate unit from the way they go about their work. And while they make a uniform hash of every item of their La Place style Asian Wok, their Pizzas are definitely some of the best in town. In Amsterdam that is quite a certificate.
However, a lot of my buddy’s irreverence and curious lateral views on life have rubbed off on me, and I can’t help thinking in terms of parallels in the cubicle infested corporate world. A rather striking thought hit me when I was waiting in line, absent midedly following the action of one of the sharp, shining Norpo Pizza cutters that they use. The rolling piece of steel cuts through the delicious baked dough with a simple grace that is fascinating, not just because it happens to be the last preparation step before the hot crusty preparation becomes yours to hold and to have, but also because of the sheer efficiency with which it performs its function.
And as I watched the metal in motion, my buddy's recent influence made me indulge in a thought experiment. How would such a tool pan out in the corporate environment, in the project management office? What if we thought of the excel spreadsheets and management dashboards in terms of pizza cutters?
In the cubicle colonies, simplicity needs to be avoided like the most pernicious plague. Simple solutions generally end up in meeting expectations and that is a proverbial dread of every corporate drudge. It is the blueprint for the stamp of mediocrity in performance appraisals. The onus is on delighters, the extra step, that particular piece of innovation that would make one shine and bask in the glory of appreciation from the upper echelons of the organisation. The ones that would echo off the reverberating walls of the meeting rooms and would leap out of laudatory notices. It is a different matter that on the way to becoming such value added delighters, it is not unusual for the solutions to stop some way short of actually being solutions. The extra step does not just take you further, it often becomes the step.
Corporate tools have this uncanny ability to suck at what they are supposed to do. And the mystique goes much further. If the purchase of the knife amounts to a substantial number of negotiations, big names and figures in the bottom line, it will be touted as an epoch making innovation. Soon the entire organisation will be eating the mutilated mass, sharing accolades and blogging about it – with Pizza pandering evangelists spreading the word that this is the very way the Italian gods had intended pizza to be had.