How to Problematize the Workplace without Really Trying

The Process and Methods engineer introduces problems where heretofore there were few: they, and their staff, redesign a business after the image of the method’s own insecurities — the product no longer dictates the form. Rather, the product is made to fall victim to nebulosity-by-design; it is remanded into the custody of the Process and Methods engineer, where it is ‘architected’ to death. There is a point at which adding complexity to production ceases to have the positive dithering effect it once had. Positive dithering effects — happy accidents — emerge when a product dictates process, and are effectively cancelled when complexity for its own sake becomes an overriding business imperative.


If it perceived every revelation, intended or otherwise, as a kind of forfeiture, an organization would endure in spite of pressure from without… It must disengage from the public, sate no curiosity, act boldly, use words sparingly, and from hunger derive power. Until the value of the occult in business is acknowledged quietly, its brand will be consigned to the annals of ephemera.


Eoghan Wyndham, THE BRAZEN HEAD, DUBLIN CITY — Unlike my charges, I am uninterested in politics. Nor do I play an instrument, which was always considered a heresy. At recitals in the old days, I would find a good wall to lean against and drink. Just thinking of those old recitals, I consider packing up for the day and heading down to Abbey Street. But apparently, though I was no performer, then or now, I was a friend, because here I am, doing the one thing the others couldn’t do well: talk. They were lovers, in their own way, with the social graces of furry animals: cuddly, but one knew they had sharp teeth, and when prompted, would use them.

The Byrnes and Fahys did not, as a matter of course, tolerate outsiders. The extent of the bonds they developed were blood bonds, and the exceptions were few, which led one to surmise, me included, that there was something of the kissing cousin between Aestrid and Tom. I don’t know this to be so, but it could be, if I had the wherewithal, verified. One last living barrier stands between me and the truth, one last patriarch, but I am not so bitter. The fact of the matter is, I miss my friends. This role, as curator, was made for me, in writ, that when I woke one red-eyed morning, on Pump Lane, I think it was, I was accosted, put into a car, carried into a Monday morning office, disheveled, brought coffee and scones, met by a straight-backed man who said nearly, “Should you wake up on Pump Lane, your new life will begin.” And so it did.

And it’s not after all a hideous undertaking, the ins and outs of curation, but it occurs to me how incomplete the task, how insufficient will be my efforts, because it’s no calling this, though the drinking is. And seeing that I am largely defective, the organization, as I call it, has installed me in a pub, that I might do better work here, between gulps.

The Utility of Disorder

Disorder necessarily is introduced, or makes itself felt or observed, when a businesses is undergoing a fundamental transition — when former thought-leaders or key personnel defect or are replaced, or in the event that key personnel grow collectively apathetic. A business that will be helmed by a new leader, or one that is ripe for a buyout, will also begin to show symptoms of disorder, as the status enjoyed by upper management as a private interest is shaken by the prospect of reorganization.

The business in transition takes on, incidentally, the appearance of a foundering business, and doubt is sewn throughout the ranks. Doubt, alone, exacerbates disorder, and soon additional symptoms of systemic malaise are exhibited, in spite of the fact that an interest’s chief imperatives remain unchanged. The transitional business, especially one that is preparing to launch anew, perhaps secretly, under a new flag, must persevere through the side-effects that are the cost of flirting with an anti-structural endeavor, whether it be re-branding or an outright sale. There is no sure tool with which the length of a company’s descent into anti-structure may be accurately forecasted; weeks may pass, or months, or longer.

Few companies are prepared for the irregular phenomena that penetrate the organization subsequent to a commitment to what may amount to a galvanic change; change ushers in first shadows of the irregular, then solid emissaries that will divest a business of all that seemed once to draw profit from rational decision-making by an executive inner party turned inside-out. This is the point at which a business comes under the influence of a hidden hand — one that is faceless.

The ship is once more helmed, now by ghosts…

Baltasar Gracian: See that things end well…

Some regard more the rigor of the game than the winning of it, but to the world the discredit of the final failure does away with any recognition of the previous care. The victor need not explain. The world does not notice the details of the measures employed; but only the good or ill result. You lose nothing if you gain your end. A good end gilds everything, however unsatisfactory the means. Thus at times it is part of the art of life to transgress the rules of the art, if you cannot end well otherwise.

The Arch

A mortal conceit of the progressive business:

. . .that all men, and in-turn, all would-be employees, are created equal; that it is in the nature of all men to learn and grow; that wisdom by mere action is won; that the predilection for service may be inculcated. Were it true; were men not by legacy of biology marked; were they but clay, and in them abiding an elasticity to which only a minority is heir, then no fatal blow by its members to a business can be struck. Lo, this isn’t so, and so unwedded from the spirit is the corporeal body of late man, that on the day of an enterprise’s inception, it is at once and evermore beset by the stealthy, the traitor, the arch.


The conversion from a black to grey market system in a legitimate business requires a transitional mindset and a quixotic disposition; it is no easy matter. Such a candidate will emerge by chance, necessarily, not by the agency of a recruiter. The quixotic entrant will bring the business to the very brink. That is, after all, his chief function: the introduction of stressors. The objective?

Identify and reward peers with coping competence. This competence will serve as a force-multiplier as the opacity inherent in a burgeoning business is encroached upon by orderliness.