Management gobbledygook paved way for Post Office scandal: Yorkshire Post Letters

From: ME Wright, Harrogate.

Former subpostmaster Gary Brown from Rawcliffe near Goole, was among the hundreds of subpostmasters who fell victim to the Post Office's Horizon computing scandal which saw them wrongly blamed for financial losses that were IT faults. Picture: Tony Johnson

David Behrens’ reminder of the 1980s management “cod science subcultures” resurrects memories, both tiresome and, in retrospect, sometimes funny (The Yorkshire Post, July 10).

When the robotic chant of “Human Resources” started equating living, breathing, thinking people with paper clips, alarm bells rang for many of us and were quickly dismissed.

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Increasingly, numbers were thrown into computers and answers obeyed.

Questions were, in the new trans-Atlantic parlance, “uncool”.

When chaos ensued, this could be attributed to “operator error”, never technological, over-optimistic, very expensive design faults; knowledge of which must not enter the public domain! David’s reference to “off-the-peg theories from Harvard Business School” recalls one who, after a month in “the States” returned, now mentally and verbally programmed with the latest “stakeholder” gobbledygook.

After several weeks of merciless ribbing, he and his language flounced off into “consultancy”.

Decades later, these mindless mindsets evolved into – amongst other things – the disgraceful Post Office scandal, with scores of decent people vilified and some even imprisoned. I’d like to think we’ve learned something at last; but have “they”?

From: Steve Wilson, Lenton Villas, Bradford

Another hugely entertaining column from David Behrens brought back memories from 25 years with Barclays. Whilst a relatively insignificant part of the empire, our sales meetings became ever notable for the new management speak our boss Happy came back armed with from the Deep South of Basingstoke.

Phrases such as “doing the knitting” and “stretching the envelope” became commonplace as most of us tried to stay awake making lists of our favourite songs, films or anything to stop us from either collapsing in a slumber or bursting out laughing. What did they feed middle management with in those days that drained them of common sense and individual thought?

Of course, as Behrens points out, most of us could spot bunkum from a mile away.

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