The other day I sat through several consecutive presentations by learning service providers. A grim experience made bearable only by a lot of doodling, deep breathing exercises to keep the brain oxygenated, and an imagined game of bullshit bingo, from the relatively innocuous "One of the major challenges we had was around change management." (Courtesy of the Department of Stating the Bleeding Obvious), through "leveraging best-of-breed systems" (finger down throat) to " to see how you're trending up against your peers " (Don't try that in a lift in my building.)
But the one that intrigued me most, trotted out by at least two of them was " company X came to us and said We need you to help us with … ".
I was amused by the way this sounds almost like a social networking call, or like Jeannie asking how to put something in Word into italics – 'Hey, got a minute?'
What they really meant to say was " Company X allowed us to tender at two days notice for a mega project so our account manager was living on coffee for two days and nights on the understanding that if we didn't get this contract she'd never work in this town again, after which we hastily tried to approximate Company X's branding and stuck a mugshot of its ugly CEO on the rough mockup system home page we'd used with Company Y the previous week, then pored over Company X's request spawning paragraphs of buzzwords to match each of its sentences, then flew in Tom, Dick and Harriet from head office, parked their jetlagged butts in the presentation room and got them to shake hands with everyone and promise the earth then three weeks later Company X put us on their shortlist and their procurement people made us cut the price in half and promise twice as much functionality then we got the contract and realised it could never be delivered on their IT infrastructure but it didn't matter as the manager who asked for it had moved on and we were able to pass off what we could scrape together as being what he had asked for as nobody who made up the contract still had a job so we were at least able to put company X's logo on the second slide of our presentation, you know, the one with all the logos the other people tendering on the day have got on theirs, strange that, but anyway don't you think it looks empty without yours? "
Any resemblance to any companies living or dead is … well … in your imagination.
1 thought on “Bullshit bingo”
Great post, Norman.
The whole procurement process is, in my opinion, fatally flawed. Just as you described, companies bid for work often without much understanding of what that work will entail, simply because they’re not allowed the time or space to have the conversations with the right people that you really need…
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