Management Boll**ks How to talk your way to the top…

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Written by Elizabeth Eyre on 1 December 2009 in Review

Elizabeth Eyre reviews

Richard Havers

Haynes Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-844258-45-1

Paperback £7.99

Whenever I'm out shopping, I like to go into card shops and spend some quality me-time chortling over the cards in the humorous section. It's cheaper than a TV licence, has fewer noticeable side-effects than Prozac and is less fattening - while being just as effective - as chocolate.

My favourite cards are the ones that combine black and white photographs from the 50s and 60s with funny, slightly saucy captions - sort of a modern-day version of the seaside postcard, if you will.

There's something about the rather eccentric coupling of innocuous pictures with - at first glance - unrelated and irreverent captions that really appeals to my inner anarchist.

I'm also a massive fan of novelty books that only ever come out at Christmas. Pains on Trains is one of my all-time favourites and I'm the proud owner of all the Bunny Suicides series. Last Christmas, I bought my partner - the only person alive today who voluntarily eats Brussels sprouts when it's not Christmas (go figure) - The Book of Sprouts. A relationship doesn't get much more understanding than that, I'm sure you'll agree.

Imagine, then, my delight in receiving through the post a Christmas novelty book full of old photographs with funny captions to review. Bliss!

Management Boll**ks How to talk your way to the top… is a small but perfectly formed treasure trove of cutting-edge management speak, married to some of the, frankly, strangest pictures it's ever been my privilege to see. It had me laughing out loud at my desk.

For example, one of the pictures is a photograph of what looks like a 1920s amateur dramatics performance featuring a strikingly made-up woman, resplendent in an embroidered kaftan, saying to a man who looks something like a butler: "Unless you meta-prioritise that data-dump, I'm going into meltdown."


On another page, a typically Fifties businessman, complete with pipe, mahogany desk, Bakelite telephone and pile of paperwork, opines: "It's time to take this company stratospheric."

The book is written by Richard Havers and published by Haynes (probably best known for its car manuals). The pictures are provided by mirrorpix. Havers' brief introduction sets the tone for the following pages: "Just who is picking the low hanging fruit? Is brainstorming a thing of the past or do we how just do 'thought showers'? If you have ever spent time in a meeting contemplating yet another' paradigm shift' then you will be the first to realise that at the end of the day it is all a load of…

"Management speak is very seductive - the bottom line is we're all trying to leverage our fair share of the intellectual capital. It is now so pervasive that everyone in society at least grasps the basics of the language."

Which is a fair point, well made by the humorous associations within the book. Management speak and whether it impedes or improves communication has been a subject of discussion on the Digest in recent months so, while this little book may not be one that changes people's lives (another recent Digest discussion), it does address a relevant issue in a funny way.

I loved this book. It may not be particularly innovative - card manufacturers have already cottoned on to the comedy value of this particular format and Drop the Dead Donkey was poking similar fun at management speak back in the 80s - and, at £7.99, it's slightly over-priced (we're hardly talking Remembrances of Things Past here or even War and Peace), but it's funny and it would make an excellent stocking filler this Christmas for anyone who likes comedy, communication or - God forbid - management speak.




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