Rudyard Kipling

If
If you can keep your head when those who manage
Have lost the plot and need someone to blame,
And bust your gut to minimise the damage,
And know youíll never blush to find it fame;
If you can knuckle down and get the job done,
And be content with knowing itís done well,
And seek no more reward - then youíre a mug, son.
Donít work so hard Ė but push yourself like hell!

If you can boost your key performance metrics
With ďcompetenciesĒ that you never had,
With HR unaware that youíve sussed their tricks
And found the loopholes in their latest fad;
If you can keep your boss, and his boss, happy
While letting lesser liveware do the work,
Youíll seem, to those who count, a clever chappie.
(Ignore the nobodies who think you shirk.)

If you know nothing practical Ė just bullshit!
(Donít worry, no-one senior will know.)
Youíll have your share of luck, my son, so push it!
Youíll be surprised how far and high youíll go.
If you can meet redundancy and head-hunts,
And in the face of each be just as bold
(Youíll find itís not so hard when itís been done once
- But donít forget your parachute of gold!);

If you do nothing useful, but can witter
About key tasks, rightsizing, and team roles
Youíll find that youíll be seen as all the fitter
For more promotion up the greasy pole.
If you can talk the talk and walk the walk, son,
Thatís all you need, to be a plutocrat.
Grab all you want; let others do the work, son,
And if you donít Ė well, son, youíll be a prat.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is unfashionable as a poet nowadays, being perhaps best remembered as the original author of the now hopelessly disneyfied Jungle Books. It should not be forgotten that he won the Nobel prize for literature in 1907. He suffers a lot from being quoted out of context, for example the line that "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet" expresses precisely the view that his Ballad of East and West set out to demolish. Another of his poems concludes "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" - rather a daring sentiment for the times in which he lived. His poem If is one of the best-known and best-loved in the English language - and so ripe for parody.

Kipling liked plain English and would have come down hard on modern managementspeak.

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© Bob Newman 2004. All rights reserved.

This page last updated 11/12/2004