Lucy Kellaway: Puncturing egos and praising good service

Lucy KellawayI have been a fan of Lucy Kellaway‘s columns in the Financial Times for many years. Her humour, usually at the expense of corporate gobbledygook and management fads, would often brighten up a dull day in the office.

I now get to hear her columns via the wonders of podcasting as I walk to work, which adds a personal element to her columns.

A recent target was Accenture’s group chief executive for management consulting in a column entitled “Accenture’s next champion of waffle words“. This gives a good indication of the content of the item, but I can’t resist including a short quote:

“The memo starts with some background to the announcement: “…wanting to give you continued visibility of our growth platform agenda…” it says. Visibility is the latest thing in business. Companies and executives all crave it but, until last week, I didn’t know that growth platform agendas were after it too. What is he saying here, I wonder? I think, though couldn’t swear to it, that he wants to tell his colleagues how the company plans to make more money.”

However it would be a mistake to assume all of her output consists of (well deserved) barbs aimed at self-important executives. A more recent article concentrated on (an admittedly rare) case of customer service that created a warm glow inside, rather than an icy chill, or getting hot under the collar. Unpolished exchanges put soul into shopping, concentrated on the rare experience in today’s consumerist world of having something repaired, in this case shoes. As Lucy points out:

“An immaculate, luxurious shop gives pleasure the first time, but after that diminishing returns set in. By contrast, having something mended has become an exciting novelty, a nostalgic return to how things ought to be.”

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