I curse in my head but rarely in writing. So I feel a bit odd writing about BS. But there is a a fair amount of academic attention given to what Dave Graeber labeled BS Jobs in a famous essay the made the rounds for all intellectuals studying work.
I listen to my clients at Career Counseling Connecticut:
“I sat in a two hour meeting that had 47 people. I’m not really sure why I was there.” (BS work)
“I don’t know who my job benefits, even in my own company.” (BS job)
“I’ve concluded that my career track will lead to just more BS.” (BS career)
To illustrate BS work, I pondered the following scenario:
Large company has inventory in warehouses. Floor managers tell the warehouse manager when supplies go low for a specific product. 99.9% of the time this informal system works. Then, one time a floor manager misses the depletion of an item and it coincides with a large order for that item. The warehouse manager was unaware. The client gets angry and tells the warehouse manager’s boss that company just lost a valuable client. The regional warehouse manager is furious and tells the national warehouse manager who is equally furious. The national manager “solves the problem” by ordering monthly reports of all items in each warehouse so that management is aware if the item is too low.
Now at the end of the month, every floor manager must create a report of items – which requires the manager and all those in the staff – to count each item (1000s of hours collectively), the floor managers of every warehouse to create reports (100s of hours), the warehouse manager to review the reports and so forth.
Soon enough, this new work is simply “part of the job” and it even sounds sensible “monthly inventory report”.
But if are the person counting hammers or whatever the warehouse is selling, you might think your time could be used better elsewhere.
And, of course, if you are a person in such an organization this might be one of a dozen parts of your job that you think is a waste of time.
A waste of life.
And you would be right.