The Plan


Blackadder: Baldrick, I have a very, very, very cunning plan.
Baldrick: Is it as cunning as a fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has moved on and is now working for the U.N. at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning?
Blackadder: Yes it is.
Baldrick: Hmm… that’s cunning.

In 2004 Jeffrey Nielson wrote an interesting book called, The Myth of Leadership in which he suggests that hierarchical leadership fosters secrecy and creates the archetypal management-employee divide. In such command and control cultures, genuine communication seldom happens because control and structures are normally top down and monolithic.

Somehow, advocates for this model of leadership have managed to convince everyone that managers, who are not normally involved in any day-to-day operational work, should be the decision makers by virtue of rank status. The result? The creative potential and wisdom of everyone else are simply left untapped. And yet, today, the dominant presumption – both in managerial literature and in practice – continues to be that the top has ultimate say in strategic plans.

In the early 2000s, the sense of frustration towards the status quo was expressed in a prose called ‘The Plan’. This poem struck a chord with so many that it became an early example of the phenomena we now know as ‘going viral’. I’m replicating it here for posterity:

The Plan

“In the beginning was the plan.
And then came the assumptions…
And the assumptions were without form.
And the plan was without substance.
And darkness was upon the face of the workers.
And they spoke among themselves saying ‘it’s a crock of crap and it stinks’.
And the workers went unto the supervisors and said ‘it’s a pile of dung and we can’t live with the smell’.
And the supervisors went unto their managers saying ‘it’s a container of excrement and it is very strong such that none may abide by it’.
And the managers went unto their directors saying ‘it’s a vessel of fertilizer and none may abide its strength’.
And the directors spoke among themselves saying unto them ‘it contains that which aids plant growth and it is very strong’
And the directors went to the vice presidents saying unto them ‘it promotes growth and it is very powerful’.
And the vice presidents went to the president saying unto him ‘this new plan will actively promote the growth and vigour of the company with very powerful effects’.
And the president looked upon the plan and saw that it was good.
And the plan became policy.
And this is how shit happens”.

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