by Gary Knight

Greetings lovely People, I do hope you are snuggled up under your bed sheets or close by a loved one? As in this month’s blog I explore a world of dark deeds, treachery, greed, abandonment & gruesome sacrifices.

In Angela Carter’s delicious book of gothic short stories, ‘The Bloody Chamber’, we are whisked off to a world where Fairy Tales have few happy endings. Inspired by these devilish tales, I began to draw comparisons to similar lands inhabited by equally dangerous creatures.

So, let our story begin… A long, long time ago a King in a distant land, or it might even have been a Queen, decided that all was not well in the Kingdom & that lots of stuff needed to change. After all food yields were down, the army was getting a bit sloppy, despite rising taxes the Kingdom’s coffers were getting somewhat empty & worrying tales of big scary monsters roaming the outlands were beginning to reach our sovereigns ears. These hideous creatures apparently possessed enormous fangs & so the nickname of FAANGs was soon attached to them. Clearly our beloved Leaders needed some help but instead of turning to their trusted generals or council advisors (after all they were already on the payroll & being handsomely rewarded with many a grot of gold), one instead turned to some external help in order to get some fresh ideas & perhaps to remove the emotional distress of difficult decision making from those already employed within the Kingdom.

Messengers were sent to & forth & soon a sturdy ship was procured in order to bring these new Saviours across the vast oceans (as they all seemed to originate from a distant land called America) to our little Kingdom by the sea. These foreign Lords all came from a province called Restructure, although our Sovereigns soon found out that over wondrous names were attached to this place, such as Strategy Refresh (one’s favourite) & even Corporate Reinvigoration. The Lords themselves came from grand & noble houses, The McFlimsey’s, the Blame’s and even the Braston Consultancy’s. They were some of the richest people in their own lands & when our Rulers were presented with the financial terms required to fix the problems of the Kingdom, well one nearly fell of their throne & let out a small gasp. Still something needed to be done & done fast, so one of them got the gig.

Some weeks later a small army of these restructuring experts camped out inside our Palace. They asked to be addressed by the name of Management Consultants as apparently the words ‘restructuring’ could not be easily translated into everyday common parlance.

A series of decrees were soon nailed to the Town Square trees in every village of the land. These contained the terms under which the MC’s (as they became affectionately known by the common folk) would perform their duties. Every citizen would have to comply with said terms or else the dreaded Dungeon of Doom awaited. Some of the more interesting decrees stated were:

Ye shall be interviewed by the MC & shall explain your exact role in the Kingdom

Ye shall be invited to comment on the roles other people also perform in the Kingdom

Ye may be invited into a room with several other people to argue why ye may keep your role & others may not.

There were many, many more decrees as well, but you get the general gist. One of the ‘common folk’, a Blacksmith was somewhat surprised that his beloved Rulers would pay across good sums of gold to these MC’s in order to be asked ‘what his role was in the Kingdom’, after all everyone knew he was the Blacksmith & everyone also knew what a Blacksmith did. Nevertheless, he complied with the decree & put his worries down to the fact that he must be ignorant & uneducated compared to the wise MCs.

 

Many people began to comment upon how strange these foreign Lords seemed. They barely ate, drunk, appeared never to sleep, worked on weekends & virtually on every festival day. Many of them were extremely young, somewhat aloof & appeared not to have been blessed by Merlin’s Charm spell.

Many, many, many moons passed & finally the great day arrived. Our Sovereigns were presented with an enormous book, expensively engraved & with luscious illustrations. Our blessed Rulers scoured through the contents which contained all the details of the mystical Strategy Refresh. There were lots of suggestions on how to deal with the FAANGs, how & where to buy new armoury, how to explore & indeed ‘invade’ new shores. Finally, our Sovereigns reached the final section of the book, here the look & feel was very different. No longer pages of ornate gold, no emerald encrusted margins, rather a very pitch-black dark feel with the words ‘Restructure Recommendations’ set out in ‘Blood Red ‘ (perhaps even Human blood red?) In these night infested pages contained many a word of dark magic:

  • recommended cost savings
  • removal of management layers
  • removal of job duplication areas
  •  merging of roles

The list went on & on. Our Blessed Rulers were at first somewhat aghast by these suggestions but then one’s heart was overjoyed in reading the final section of the book, Projected Overall Savings. Deep joy, for despite the vast sums of gold that needed to be handed over to the MCs for their work, all this could be paid for & heaps would be left over for the Crown’s treasure chest!

Our King/Queen summoned their council & ordered that The Great Restructure was to be implemented forthwith. The bells of the cathedral rang out in joy as a sign that our Kingdom would be safe, secure, wealthy & a magical place to live in once again. This indeed was a glorious day for all the citizens of this very small Kingdom by the Sea, wasn’t it?

Around the same time that the Cathedral’s bells were ringing out, a Noble Knight riding upon a glorious white horse passed close by the Kingdom’s gates. He had not planned to stop this night, but he was intrigued by the general noise & activity taking place. Our good Knight was a close friend of our Blessed Rulers, so he was welcomed with genuine warmth by the people. As he dismounted his horse, he asked the squire what all the fuss was about.

” The Great Restructure is Upon us Sire “.

A chill raced all along our Noble Knight’s back upon hearing these words, one which was further exacerbated when he saw a group of people dragging chests of gold & jewellery towards a waiting fleet of carts & horses. They wore distinctive ruby red cloaks & upon their hands they bore the horn shaped rings bearing the mark of the Braston Consultants, the ‘Braston Stranglers ‘ as they had become known by many other Kingdoms were their work had been conducted.

Much troubled our good Knight requested an audience with our most blessed Sovereigns.

He bore a ghastly look across his face as the King & Queen told them all their news of the Great Restructure. Sadly, a great many people would have to be kicked out of the Castle’s gates as they were no longer required. Some would have the time to gather a few belongings, but others were to be removed at all haste in a very undignified manner. The King’s own HR Bodyguard had been dispatched to carry out the work. All the people leaving would be comforted by these sweet words:

  • it’s nothing personal
  • you have done nothing wrong
  • everyone is so saddened by the news
  • do not worry, you will be fine in time
  • the King & Queen are extremely worried by the effect this will all have on the morale of those that are staying

Those who were staying would then be put under a period of cultural refresh in order to both celebrate & be trained on how they are to work in the Great Restructure. These people were going to love the Kingdom even more than they did before.

The Knight was invited to read the sacred book produced by the Stranglers. In over 40 years of hardened campaign battles & travels to many of the lands across the known world he had seen it all before. Yes, the cost savings were indeed impressive but were any of the suggestions for the Strategy Refresh really valid? Would they do anything at all to counter the threat of those scary FAANGs? He also realised that this Great Restructure bore a very (very) close resemblance to many other MC documents he had seen in other Great Kingdoms.

Frustrated but resigned to the fact this King & Queen were not for turning, our noble Knight bad his farewells. He bowed in the gracious & courteous manner to our beloved Rulers & asked them just one more question:

” How many of the King & Queen’s most trusted senior advisors would be leaving the Kingdom? ”

” O0h, none of them “, came the reply, ” they have done nothing wrong. It is the ordinary common folk we sadly have to blame. They are the ones that must rightfully bare their burden for our current problems”.

In the days that followed there was much sadness witnessed within the castle walls. Some of the common folk were dragged off & tortured, forced to sign confessions (that the HR Bodyguards called, rather innocently, ‘compromise agreements), others had to sneak back at night to recover some of their belongings, while some were simply never seen again.

The Knight had seen & heard enough & off he set to escape the madness of that place. Before leaving he put his own set of decrees on a tree in the middle of the castle walls, in the vain hope that somebody, someday would read & learn.

  • Do not love your Kingdom because it does not love you.
  • The King’s HR Bodyguards work for the Kingdom, not you. Remember that when the time comes.
  • The only thing that is consistent in any Great Restructure or Strategy Refresh is that lots of good folk will have to leave the Kingdom
  • Most of the senior people who called for & implemented the last Great Restructure will remain, even though they are the ones who didn’t get the current structure right.

As our Good Knight was about to climb upon his trusty stead he was approached by a fair Lady, resplendent in her deep ruby red cloak, beside her an enormous Wolf with deep blue eyes & a rich fur coat of snow, white hair.

” a gold coin for your thoughts, most chivalrous Knight’, she said.

” when will you be back fair Lady? ”

” Oh, in about 3 years I would imagine. Just enough time for this Strategy Refresh to have run its course, then we can deliver the next one. ”

” What about the common folk, their livelihood, their anguish, their despair? ”

” Now don’t you get all emotional with me. They are not my concern. Besides, think about all the fun we are going to have when we replace them with Robots!”

With that she winked, blew a kiss, & placed a handful of golden Jewels in her pocket.

PROLOGUE:

Thousands of years after these events Leaders of Companies are still engaging the MC’s to help them along the GREAT RESTRUCTURING path. ITV are just one of those undertaking such activity now, but surely the Comcast/Sky & Disney/Fox deals will precipitate others. I don’t blame the MC’s themselves, after all they are in the business of making £/$s out of selling their services. I am also fully aware that, in a hyper competitive market, companies need to be ever vigilant. Change after all is a constant dynamic in today’s markets, so the adapt or die label is never more pertinent. My frustration lies in the fact that cost cutting is still rampant when these reviews are conducted, often resulting in real human ‘sacrifices’. Rarely does a ‘STRATEGY REFRESH’ produce a genuine new way of operating, or one that is successful over time. Even more frustrating is that so few senior people join the ‘sacrifice’ club when such changes occur. Now that is odd, isn’t it? The very people who were responsible for their current company structures (& who presumably got it wrong, or at least failed to perform at expected levels) get to keep their jobs, whilst tons of ‘on the ground troops’ lose theirs. It will be interesting to see if my predictions are true when the new ITV, Comcast & Disney structures emerge, although I am almost certain I am right.

So sadly, dear Noble Knight on your gracious white horse, ‘we have learned nothing’.

Meanwhile look out for that Fair Lady in her cloak of ruby red, with the Wolf by her side, as she will be paying you a visit sometime soon.

Sweet Dreams.

Namaste x

 

Gary Knight
About Gary Knight
Inside the Bloody Chamber