Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Corporate Thunderdome – Many Enter. One Survives.

The Pointless Nightmare Bushwah of the Brainstorm

Death of True Creativity in Corporate America

“Square pegs,
One size does not fit all” – The Waitresses

I’m dull. I’m dreadfully, dead-fully dull (please do not take this as a cue to curtail your reading now.) Yet, in the company of certain acquaintances, I’m the Oscar Levant in the clique (so you won’t immediately stray from this communiqué, I’ve included his Wikipedia link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Levant.) But amongst others with similarly skilled creative inclinations, I am the Jackie Vernon (this may grow tedious - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Vernon_comedian) on a dais deep with Sam Kinisons.
Oscar Levant, back in the days when alcoholism was considered wonderfully charming
Jackie Vernon, the hardest picture to find online.
In my job, we have brainstorming meetings on a far too frequent basis. And I balk at their regularity, primarily because I’m to brainstorms what Rand Paul is to polygraphs, an imminent mishap lurking ‘round every corner. Without a doubt this has negatively affected my rise in the company (non-existent) leaving a one-time, promising career in a state of stagnation that the Cuyahoga River would envy. The importance of the corporate brainstorm, like so many team-building trends of the past, will most likely fade into fad history like click-clacks, flagpole sitting and Craig Kilbourne. But for the present, we ad-lib challenged participants must try our best to muddle through and BS with the best, as unadulterated malarkey is the chief currency of value in these wearying wing-dings.

I can pen a passable, possibly even, praiseworthy narrative, but my command of immediate, clever, concise and witty repartee is as embarrassingly deficient as Miley Cyrus’s armoire. I simply don’t possess the prompt parodistic  powers of a Jonathan Winters or a Robin Williams, or for that matter even the lesser lampooning  skills of long-deceased comic, Sandy Baron, renowned for leading many an agonizing improv session on the Mike Douglas talk show.  Rarely was off the cuff as off the mark as when being painfully performed by Baron, Douglas, Bobby Goldsboro, Vicki Carr, Stan Kann (the Gadget Man) and the ubiquitous Dr. Joyce Brothers. Yet, upon returning to my desk, that which so aggravatingly eluded me in the confines of the populated board room will flow as freely as uncontained and irrational anger from the Hulk or his half-brother Governor Chris Christie.
The Brainstorm - ever stimulating
Faking it is an option, and is recurrently employed. There’s the annoying technique of just parroting an idea already contributed with slight differences in language and presentation.  We also have a team member who has found success in incessantly repeating either “yes” or “right” in response to the highest ranking people in the room. Less maddening, but still time-wasting and mind-numbing, are the attendees who believe every syllable conceived by their still evolving young brains to be Dostoyevsky-like genius, for inexplicable reasons always peppered with sci-fi and comic book allusions, and so self-editing of thought is but a distant dream we all just once had.  And although my pride has goneth before my professional fall long ago and far away, I still will not behave such, it’s embarrassing, humiliating and as obvious as Jeb Bush’s Hispanic self-declaration.

Equally alarming is the rapid progression in intent of the brainstorm meeting from a forum for the free flow of ideas to blood sport - a highly competitive, mean-spirited, backstabbing clash in which the strong survive and thrive, while the weaker melt into a puddle of that morning’s mocha-latte.

Ah, the ideal creative atmosphere
I’m a writer (just ask me, I’ll tell you) not an improvisational actor. I produce best in quiet and solitary, contrary to the current corporate mindset of privacy prohibited, and tightly-bundled cubicles purchased from the Billy Barty Collection. I didn’t train with Second City, or the Committee or even The Ace Trucking Company (Wikipedia-wise, you’re on your own) but I did study creative writing in many of its myriad varieties, as well as English and American Literature, in one of the nation’s most renowned universities for such pursuits (yes, I peaked at 22.)  And to engender true quality creative one needs time to think, time to conceive, to rewrite, to perfect and to hone, for those steps are inherent in the writing process.  As long as we continue down the current path and follow the lead of trends and business degrees and audience research sessions, original thought and creation will wither in favor of that which is inoffensive and popular.

In the words of this theme from the short-lived but affectionately-remembered T.V. series “Square Pegs,” - in that show’s high school, as well as in business environs and the world as a whole, “one size does not fit all.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions?  Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

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