Grudges, Rumours & Drama Queens – the essential office manual

Yes indeed. The essential office manual is now available at Amazon and other online book stores.

Grudges, Rumours & Drama Queens is essential reading for all aspiring and current government officers at all levels, as well as anybody who is desperate to understand how the whole machine works. Grudges Rumours & Drama Queens is an essential text for all aspiring and current bureaucrats, whether they realise it or not. This book builds on the work of the ancient philosophers Futilius and Dillayus, and details the importance of grudges, rumours, and unintelligible jargon. This manual will take you from the basics, such as how to not make decisions and passing the time on a quiet day, right up to advanced skills such as avoiding the blame. It will ensure your success as part of the office machine!

Click on the cover to learn more.


Grudges, Rumours & Drama Queens is available at Amazon, Amazon U.K. And many other online stores

Burocrates – Great Government Philosopher No. 2

Burocrates – The Greek perspective

The pre-eminent Greek philosopher was Burocrates.

Born in 450 BC, Burocrates studied early democracy and looked at government in a holistic manner. He regarded it as a form of art. He viewed public servants as artists whose job was to provide aesthetically pleasing processes and outcomes in a manner that was not rushed by the mere inconvenience of time. He was a contemporary of Socrates, and it is rumoured that these two philosophers spent many hours discussing the relative merits of democracy and royal rule, over large amounts of wine.

He met his death in 385 BC when he found himself in an argument with another contemporary, Aristophanes, who accused him of having all the characteristics of the popular politicians he studied: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner. They both died when their brains dribbled out of their ears due to the banality of their arguments.

Unfortunately, Burocrates is not widely known and few, if any, academics have seriously studied his work. However, he leaves us with some notable quotes including:

– The pure art of government should be unsullied by the ticking of the clock.
– Where the path appears straight and without danger, extra care should be taken and your pace slowed.
– A quick decision is like a premature ejaculation. It deprives the bureaucrat of respect and leaves him feeling unsatisfied.
– The vote is a precious thing, its value priceless; never have so many people been kept happy by such a futile act.
– Let a politician announce decisions and keep him happy for a day. Let a politician think he made the decisions, and keep him happy for a whole term of government.

A Message From the Director-General

The Department for Avoiding the Blame (DAB) is recognised as one of the world’s leading government departments.

By virtue of DAB’s size, experienced directors, incomprehensive and random policies, and resolute stance on not making any significant decisions, it has maintained a world class bureaucratic system that defers or ignores at least 80 percent of decisions it is asked to make or questions it is asked to respond to. This level of inefficiency has not been achieved anywhere else in the world.

Our knowledge of our politicians is by no means complete. We are learning how our new cabinet, and we are still trying to understand the short and long term consequences of the various intellectual capability of the various Ministers, such as those including health, climate change, and treasury.

The Annual Report (2012) provided a snapshot of our indicators. It showed that we were achieving an acceptable level of hot air output and that there was an increasing level of confusion in the general community about the purpose of DAB. While our structure was in reasonable shape, the report did indicate that there were emerging opportunities to add additional layers of bureaucracy to the system and that a sound strategic plan should identify where DAB can act on these opportunities.

The Government has made recent statements about reviewing and restructuring the government machine, including making risky changes to speed up decision-making within the bureaucracy. It has also flagged merging and splitting departments.

All of this creates potential risks for DAB and other departments, however DAB’s leadership team are committed to maintaining it aim of succeeding at the expanse of everybody else and will continue to work towards that goal.

DAB can play an important role in the workings of government.  It has the duty – on behalf of all of the public and, more importantly, the many esteemed ancestors of the current bureaucracy, to rigorously refuse to make progress on any proposals or policies, and to determine what impact this will have in inconveniencing other departments and private companies, and whether those impacts and obstinate refusal to use common-sense are of sufficient bloody-mindedness to frustrate everybody to an acceptable level.

Based on its own analysis, and drawing on the best scientific advice from other areas of Government, academics and the private sector, DAB will then ensure that it has the required tool to avoid blame for any delays and or financial losses. If it does its job well it will remain largely anonymous.

DAB also provides strategic advice to Government on key issues so that it can engineer its continuing anonymity and gain large slices of funding at the expense of other departments and non-government organisations without being asked to produce anything of any substance in return.

The complexity and volume of matters now coming to DAB, and increasing community expectations about the rigour and timeliness of decisions, means that DAB is failing, to some extent, in its quest for anonymity, it must therefore continue to embrace, and even promote, reform to ensure that roadblocks are placed where most effective and that the development of Government Function Inhibitors (GFI) progresses in a timely and efficient manner.

This Strategic Plan outlines the context in which DAB currently operates and its strategies and priorities for the period 2010-2013.  The plan also articulates DAB’s vision for reforming its practices to stay abreast of the changing social and economic conditions in which it operates.

Finally, this Strategic Plan is not a static document. It will be regularly reviewed and refined to better focus the efforts of DAB in fighting needless and expensive efforts to smooth out the current administrative systems to ensure that it meets its obligations to enrage and frustrate the community, business and the Government of the day.


Bartholomew Menzies-Thatcher

Director General

March 2010

Crisis Management

When the shit hits the fan there’ll be trouble
and there’s only one thing left to do,
we’ll all get our stories sounding consistent
and the blame will be squarely on you.

It’s not that we actually dislike you
and you’ve not caused us any real trouble,
but someone must take all the blame for this cock-up
and they’ll find your name lying in the rubble.

You’re in the unfortunate position
where it’s conceivable it might be your fault,
and you’re senior enough in a management role
that you could have called it all to a halt.

But the proper trend in these situations
is to frantically manoeuvre away
and distance yourself from disasters you caused
and let some other unfortunate pay.

Brighten up your day at work

5 Ways to Brighten a Dull Day at Work

Life in the public service, or any other job for that matter, can have its boring moments when nothing appears to be happening. In times like these you will need to have some ways to brighten up your day, or at least give your work life some meaning.

Cultivate a Grudge

All good bureaucrats need to have cultivated at least one grudge during their time in the civil service. A grudge will give you a hobby that you can enjoy whenever you like. It will usually make someone’s life difficult, though preferably without them being aware that it is you that is causing them problems. If you find yourself the subject of what seems to be a lot of bad luck, few opportunities, or even just more boring and soulless work than usual, you are probably the subject of a grudge.

A good grudge can be cultivated where you feel someone of less merit was awarded a promotion, or perhaps where someone has made a decision that has given you more work to do, or even where someone just seems ripe to be the subject of a grudge.

It really does not matter who you choose, so long as you work to make their life difficult and have fun in the process.

The more senior you are in government, the more grudges you will be able to accumulate, and the more entertainment you can devise to make your days go by more rapidly. In fact, by the time you are a Director, you should have at least five well-cultivated grudges that colour your every decision.

Invent Some Jargon

The nature of jargon means that at any one time there is new jargon being invented by some boffin or career bureaucrat somewhere in the world. It would be a shame if you missed out on this. So, a way to pass some time is to invent your own phrases. The minimum you should aim for is a three-phase high-impact neologism. Once you have become comfortable with this you can progress on to four and five-phase jargon. Anything more than a five-phase fustian phraseology will lose its impact on the reader. The ultimate accolade for inventors of jargon is to see their own phrase included in a government document. This shows that your invention is gaining ground and that some poor soul has convinced themselves that they know what it means. This is extraordinary, as you know it was just meaningless crap. Some examples of meaningless drivel are included below.

• Collaborative database nodes
• Enhanced empirical capability
• Interactive operational paradigm
• Relevant talent dimension
• Functional competency matrix
• Replicable human capital synergies
• High-resolution talent protocols
• Emergent executive mission statement
• Corporate risk management feedback-loops
• Multi-phase expanded organisational continuum

Invent Jargon with Acronyms

To take your jargon to the next level, you need to disguise it in an acronym. This adds an extra layer of confusion to the term and sends people scurrying for a dictionary or searching the Internet for an explanation of the term. The more amusing your acronym, the better. Five examples are included below.
• Joint Australian Regional Government Organisational Network (JARGON)

• Notional Organisational Benchmark (NOB)
• Transitory Work Allocation Timetable (TWAT)
• Comprehensive Risk Assessment Protocol (CRAP)
• Global Undirected Feedback Framework (GUFF)

Write a letter to the Minister that you know will come to you to answer

Here’s one for those in government. No matter what area you work in, there will be times when you will have your own views on a particular matter that you are dealing with on behalf of the government. At these times, you can write a letter to the Minister (under a pseudonym of course) and wait for it to work its way through the system and onto your desk (members of the public are often unaware that letters to the Minister go to a civil servant to draft the response that the Minister then signs). You can then spend your time composing a well thought out institutional response to your question. If you write enough of these letters you will also be able to keep track of how well the bureaucracy is working by comparing the time it takes to get a response back to you through the system.

Start a Rumour

Many an enjoyable day has been spent watching the result of a well-prepared rumour. The government rumour mill will spread the word as quick as greased lightning. For example, a well-placed whisper that a major restructure is in the wind after a visit by an unknown ‘suit’ will take off like wildfire. To start the rumour you should make the suggestion to a colleague that you have heard the man is a Human Resources consultant with a reputation for ‘streamlining’ departments. Never directly suggest that you think a review is in the wind; just give enough information to set off the minds of the impressionable into a stream of consciousness that will head in the direction of a dark and scary tunnel. The impressionable person, probably a drama queen or a very bitter and cynical employee, will hit the ground running. Before you know it someone will be saying to you – ‘Did you know that a departmental review is happening?’ and you can truthfully say – ‘Really? I hadn’t heard that before. Who told you?’

Strategic Planning (the cynic in me returns)

Every government department needs a five-year plan, whether they realise this or not. Many departments even get their act together to actually produce such a plan. You should be familiar with the standard process so that when the time comes you can participate with an appropriate level of skill. The process usually follows a path similar to this:

Step 1

The executive management team gets together when the realisation dawns that the department or branch has been doing the same thing for many years, and they are now so far behind everyone else in their area that they are almost completely irrelevant and in danger of becoming a joke. Worse than this, the department may be disbanded. If this happens it is the managers that would be most at risk of losing their jobs. Something must be done to regain the illusion of usefulness and relevance.

Step 2

The staff have to be kept in the dark about the need for a new plan. This ignores the fact that the staff have been muttering and grumbling about the lack of direction for years and pleading for a new strategy.

However, involving the staff is to be avoided at all costs as it will only complicate the process through the involvement of too many people, or worse still, it will attract numerous sensible and practical ideas that necessitate decisions to be made and actions to be undertaken.

Step 3 (Meeting 1)

The management team must meet behind closed doors to discuss the future direction. These discussions must follow the pattern of such documents, so the first step is to define the Vision and Mission Statement. A great deal of time is spent on this task as these set the scene for the final strategic plan. The Vision is usually a one or two line statement that encompasses the dreams of the organisation. It should be noted that these dreams cannot relate to wishes of permanent anonymity and increased funding, as this is a public statement. In normal circumstances the first two hours of a three-hour meeting are taken up creating and refining the Vision. In fact this usually involves lots of arguing over the precise wording, as personal preferences in language and grammar take over and the meeting degenerates into an argument about whether the word ‘provides’ or the word ‘presents’ is a better option.

An experienced procrastinator can ensure that the whole meeting can be taken up by this debate without a definite resolution. However, a great deal of skill is required for this and it should not be attempted by beginners. A tip for first-timers is to initially stir the waters by bringing up a deeply philosophical question such as, ‘At its core, what exactly is the purpose behind coming up with a vision? And what is the difference between the Vision and Mission Statement anyway?’ It is guaranteed that most people in the room, if not all, will not really know the answer and are just following the standard headings without question. Some will attempt to answer and in the process derail the meeting and demonstrate their own lack of knowledge, tailing off into silence as they realise the hole they are digging. Hopefully by then it will be too late and numerous arguments will have broken out about what the differences actually are.

Step 4 (Meeting 2)

A repeat the previous meeting, but this time relating to the Mission Statement. It casts doubt on the progress made so far and re-opens the battles that were apparently left unresolved concerning the Vision. These battles are never completely resolved because an experienced civil servant knows the value of holding a grudge for long periods of time.

Step 5 (Meeting 3)

This meeting will move on from the debacle of trying to define the Vision and Mission Statement, leaving them poorly worded and open to ridicule, and preferably meaningless. Now it will be time to agree on the Objectives and Desired Outcomes. It goes without saying that the same confusion about the meanings of these two terms will cause this meeting to degenerate in the same way as the previous meetings. What is a Desired Outcome? What is an Objective? Surely the Outcomes you are working towards are the same as the Objectives…aren’t they? Say no more.

Step 6 (Meeting 4)

If there is any will left to continue this process, and in reality it has often disappeared by this stage, it is now time to look at Actions and Responsibilities. In all likelihood what happens is that the procrastinators have successfully ground their colleagues into the dust and they are only able to come up with vague general statements about intent, with no substance. Where responsibilities are assigned, the vague nature of the actions is such that nobody knows what they mean and nothing will happen. And there you have the generic government strategic plan.

(This is an extract from You Can’t Polish a Turd – the Civil Servants Manual)

Dark Matter and its Relationship to Bureaucracy – a monologue

The search for dark matter has occupied the minds of many of the brightest scientists in the world. They can’t see it and are continually searching for signs of its existence. It must be there, there is so much mass that is unaccounted for, that without it there is a great big hole in many theories. This is important for our understanding of the universe…it really is.

I believe that I have discovered where at least some of this dark matter lies. To explain this, I need to show how dark matter relates to gravity, and also, as I will explain, to bureaucracy. I have spent many years trying to track down dark matter and how it might relate to gravitational anomalies. I believe that I have proven that, not only can dark matter be the cause of such anomalies, but that it also drawn to situations where there is already significant gravity.

Through a combination of empirical analysis and experimentation, I have found that the gravity of situations is exponentially increased by the presence of a type of dark matter, which I have called dim matter. When there is too much dim matter present, the gravity of some situations can get to the point of implosion, or explosion, depending on the nature of the matter at hand. When I examined dim matter in detail, I found it to be an isotope of the recently discovered element, yet to be formally named, currently called Futilium. This element has a half-life of approximately 280 milliseconds, almost equal to the life of a good idea in government. However, further has demonstrated that the structure can be changed to make it more stable – in the short term. This isotope has one extra electron, with no apparent function, and has been named bureaucrium.

The normal structure of Futilium is 195 neutrons and 122 each of protons and electrons, giving it an atomic mass of 317. Usually in and out of existence in the blink of an eye, this element’s negatively charged electrons can, in some instances, start attracting a new type of particle – the positively energized moron. These morons, while never being part of bureaucrium, hang around and cause the element to become increasingly reactive until saturation point is reached. Once so overwhelmed, it begins to suck any energy it can out of the surrounding environment. Once this occurs morons are repelled; however, this does not appear to stop increasing numbers of morons wanting to attach themselves. These excess morons then hang in a cloud around any situation of gravity that they can find, awaiting the opportunity to latch on. They then travel around in ever decreasing circles until they crash into the nucleus, at which point they can cause an explosion.

Positively energized morons have been shown to add no weight to any situation and, in fact, consist mainly of a vacuum with very little surrounding substance. The sheer number of morons that are attracted to situations of significant gravity eventually leads to increased mass and instability. However, this was only half of the story. I then needed to find out where the dim matter (and all the additional morons) came from. By studying situations of significant gravity, I soon realised that there were carriers of dim matter which would quietly attach themselves to unstable situations dangerously increasing the gravity. Drama Queens have been identified as the major carriers, but politicians, bureaucrats and fanatics of all sorts are also carriers. I then had to track where this dim matter was picked up by the carriers.

One theory that I am following up is that there is a huge black hole composed of dim matter within each of the parliaments around the world, and that these are major attractors of drama queens, and other carriers, to those institutions. These carriers then go and spread gravity to situations throughout their country, often taking positively energized morons with them. Dim matter also appears to replace grey matter in carriers. Once bureaucrium had been characterized, the search for more of the morons was on. It has since been proven that there are indeed large numbers of positively energized morons in governments and all major bureaucracies throughout the world. They add extended life to bureaucrium through their leaching of energy from the environment, and have been attracting increasing numbers of similar morons to affected institutions. So, the dark matter that resides in bureaucracies is really dim matter that symbiotically reacts with many, many morons that travel around in ever-decreasing circles before reaching critical mass and exploding. Fallout from bureaucratic explosions (and implosions) has a half-life in excess of 20 years.

More gems of unlikely wisdom can be found in the book Grudges, Rumours & Drama Queens – the ultimate guide for navigating government. If you feel so inclined it is available at Amazon and Createspace.

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