This article is more than 1 year old

FT journo roasts channel leaders for spouting bullshit

Tech industry needs more Wan Longs, apparently

Canalys Channels Forum 2016 The great and the good of the channel were chastised and chided at Channels Forum this week, as Financial Times management columnist Lucy Kellaway called on them to lay off the bullshit and waffle for the sake of humanity.

FT associate editor Kellaway told the closing session at the Canalys Channels Forum that the tide of bullshit drowning the business world had sprung forth from tech, and it was time to stick a cork in it.

“Where something is really really simple, you guys make it complicated,” she said. “What happens when it’s complicated to start off with?”

Just to warm them up, she asked how many of the audience were passionate about their jobs. When a forest of be-Rolexed hands shot up, she pointed out that any dictionary will tell you that passion means “either a strong sexual attraction or the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross.”

“I know tech’s really exciting,” Kellaway continued, but “unless something’s gone very, very wrong in your organisation, I suggest you don’t feel passionate about what you do at all.”

Having thrown her audience off balance, and possibly into confusion over their relationships with either tech or their co-workers or both, she battered them with a succession of ludicrous statements from tech and other business leaders.

Microsoft once had an admirably clear mission statement, she said: "A computer on every desk and in every home."

“Now look at the gloopy nonsense Microsoft has: 'to empower every person, every organisation on the planet to do more and achieve more'. That is terrible... do more what? More drinking? More sleeping?”

Apple’s retail supremo Angela Ahrendts was slated for this gem from her time at Burberry: “In the wholesale channel Burberry exited doors not aligned with brand status and invested in presentation to both enhance assortments and dedicated customised real estate in key doors.”

“Can you believe that?” asked Kellaway. “This is a company that makes raincoats.”

Cisco – a key sponsor for the event – also got a dig, with Kellaway quoting John Chambers’ declaration that, “We’ll wake the world up and move the planet a bit closer to the future.”

It turns out Kellaway doesn't believe Cisco are actual timelords. “The hubris,” she cried. “Cisco is not going to move the planet any closer to the future than it is going to get without Cisco.”

But who should tech leaders turn to when trying to fillet their words in future? Kellaway had the answer in the form of the world’s biggest pork producer, Wan Long, who in an FT profile, declared with exquisite brevity: “What I do is kill pigs and sell meat.”

So, next time tech execs start feeling the superlatives building up to bursting point, Kellaway advised: “Think of Wan Long. Would Wan Long like it? If not rewrite it.” ®

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