Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Working smarter, not harder

As companies cull their human resources to improve the bottom line, a couple of phrases get bandied about that raise the gag reflex in me.

Let me back up: The phrase human resources is the first phrase that gags me like a spoon. A resource is something you use. Calling employees "human resources" acknowledges that they are slaves, to be used and used up. "Our employees are our greatest asset" - Oh, yeah? An asset is a thing, isn't it?

OK, so we've acknowledged that those blobs of flesh walking around the office are company property - now we're going to eliminate some of them. The rest are going to have to "work smarter, not harder." Wrong-o. You still have to accomplish the same tasks, so you're going to have to cut corners and get the work done not as well as you did with more people, or you are going to work harder.

But the phrase that corks me most of all is, "We're going to do more with less." Let me turn the keyboard over to writer/creator David Simon:
The newsroom where I used to work (the Baltimore Sun) had 460 people. Now it has 300. And there are people out there who just don’t care. They’ll make more money putting out a mediocre paper than they would putting out a better paper. They know this. It's their equation. They’re quite content with mediocrity.

And within that culture we have people that are saying, ‘oh no, we’re going to do more with less,’ which is one of the great lies of the 21st century. What it means is we’re going to do less with less. And that’s the nature of what journalism is becoming.
Simon is talking about journalism, but his thoughts apply to any place where bean counters rule instead of the pursuit of quality. Read the whole interview here.



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