BOFH: Hearken! The Shiny Button software speaks of Strategic Realignment

It'll wink and blink, but not make you think

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 3 The Boss has taken a meeting with a bunch of support contractors, apparently to talk about issues we might be having. As we're not having any issues, there's an undercurrent of betrayal in his words.

"I like to keep an open mind," the Boss says in response to my sigh of doubt – once more confusing the words "open" and "empty."


An hour and a half later he's in Mission Control, bursting to tell us about what he's seen and heard.

"They've got this amazing piece of software which ..." he starts.

"... make everyone's life (a) easier, (b) safer, (c) clearer, or (d) better ordered?" I suggest

"No, it's all of those things but more. It'll allow people to ..."

"... have fractionally less disk space and vastly less CPU and memory while it runs in the background doing whatever it does to make (a), (b), (c), and (d) happen?"

"I ..."

"What's the product called?"

"Oh, it's ah ... Neo ... um, Enterprise ... uh ... Executive ... uhm ..."

"Ah, so 'Shiny Button' software?" the PFY asks.


"Shiny Button software. The Christmas tree lights of the IT world," he replies. "It'll wink and blink, but not make you think."

"Yeah, I don't think ..."


"Does it produce metrics?" I ask.

"Yes. That's the point!"

"And who will look at those metrics?"

"The Company will!"

"So when you say 'The Company' you mean no one?"

"No. Everyone will."

"No they won't!".

"They will! You can glean great insights from looking at ..."

"... your poo," the PFY interrupts. "It can tell you how well your body is processing food, whether you have a serious illness, AND it will reflect the state of your microbiome. But no one really does it. And that's when it's directly related to their own, personal, and highly important health!"

"That's different," the Boss says.

"No it's not. It's like when people say 'The Staff' will empty the dishwasher, yet every morning the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes.  Unless it's someone's job it doesn't get done. And it's even worse when the job has absolutely no relevance. People will not poo-gaze at metrics."

"Yes, but we can use these metrics to do our work better. WE COULD SAVE MONEY!" the Boss says, exuding the sort of fervor you generally only see behind the drinks table of the People's Temple.

"By finding ways to reduce manpower and cut jobs, you mean?" I ask, looking out his office window at the unsuspecting staff. "I bet that'll be popular."

"We're just looking at the software at the moment. There's been no decisions."

... Three days later ...

"... and we've identified some areas of potential savings," the Boss tells the assembled IT masses. "Our contractors have highlighted several areas where we can reduce overheads, and as a result the Company spend."

"Do you mean job cuts?" our Business Analysts asks, doing a bit of on-the-fly BA work.

"We're thinking more Strategic Realignment of Company Resources," the Boss sidesteps, avoiding an acronym but still admitting nothing – and everything.

"So job cuts then?" the BA repeats, annoyed.

"We have no definite plans to reduce staffing levels," the Boss lies, feeling the tide turn against him as he crumples the "Sacrifices must be made" page of his "staff consultation" notes. For a moment there I thought he was going to slap on the pointy ears and start talking about the needs of the many ...

The damage is done, though, and the mood of the room turns as the staff can smell blood in the water.

"We'll need to carefully consider our options before making any decisions," he adds as the room silently starts emptying.


"How do you think it went?" he asks us a few minutes later.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say you're as popular as Clippy, Microsoft's Office Assistant."

"Oh, do they have an Office Assistant?"

"Not any more," I counter.

"It was probably just a strategic realignment of Microsoft's Company resources," the PFY suggests. "And not because everyone absolutely hated condescending suggestions."

"But we have to make savings!"

"Do we?" I ask. "The Company is ridiculously top-heavy, and a couple of board members would probably achieve the savings you're looking for."

"And you think I can convince a couple of them to quit?" the Boss asks.

"I was thinking more of murder suicide," I reply.

"Or something that looked like murder suicide," the PFY suggests.

"Uh ... I don't think that will be necessary," the Boss backpedals.

"Suit yourself, but it'd improve morale after your latest speech."

"I don't think it was that bad."

"You've just told people in an airy-fairy way that you're 'considering options' in response to a question about job cuts. I'd confidently bet you 50 quid that half the department is currently engaged in CV polishing."

"I doubt that ..."

... The next morning ...

"Ah. We've had a resignation," the Boss says, eyeing a handwritten note violently stapled to his door.

"What's it written in – finger paint?" the PFY asks.

"No, no," I say. "If my guess is correct, I think our former BA is not only resigning, but also inviting the Boss to investigate the state of his microbiome."

"Still, nice flourish in the signature, though," the PFY adds.

More about

More about

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like