So The PFY is back from a short junket he went on to learn about some technology or the other that no-one's heard of, no-one cares about, and no-one can afford to use.
"How'd that Microsoft thing go?" I ask, as he enters the office with a full contingent of bloodshot eyes.
"Microsoft? No, I was at that thing of 21st century connectivity!"
"Yeah. There were people there from all over the place."
"Oh, and what did you bring back from it?"
"A hell of a hangover, about a million pens, a digital watch built into a chunk of steel, a desktop organiser, uuuuhm, a patch cable that winds back into it's holder, some golf balls, a business card hold, a CD holders, a couple of..."
"OK, Bruce Forsyth, I think I got the picture - you brought back nothing."
"What do you mean, I just told you what I brought back."
"That's just fluff. You have to bring back something of worth to the company. Something that will make The Boss think it was a good thing to send you there - so that he sends you there again next year!"
"Oh. Well he can have some of my pens I suppose."
"PENS WON'T CUT IT! He needs something that he can in turn pass up to his bosses to justify the outrageous training budget!"
"Look, you go on a course, you get heaps of useful information, bring it back, The Boss shows this to the Head of IT, he shows it to the board as a future direction for IT and the company, the board is happy and happiness trickles down the chain onto you. If you fail to bring The Boss something back to flash about the place, something will be trickling onto you, but it won't be accolades. SO, did you bring back any Informational CD Roms?"
"Course Program and Associated material?"
"Dumped it in the bin on the first day."
"Cheap, poorly labelled, Course Carrier Bag, with Proceedings CD in the small zip up compartment?"
"Brochures from Vendors?"
"Nope. Didn't have room with all the Pens I got."
"Ok, so it looks to me like that's the last junket you'll be going on. Unless..."
"How's your patter on Technology of the Future."
"Do you think you could give a 15 minute, extremely dull - and I mean MINDNUMBINGLY DULL here, not just tedious or meandering. I'm meaning a talk so Dull you'd think Richard Stallman had taken over your body. For free beer."
"Nah, I don't think I could."
"What about a 5 minute dull speech, full of acronyms, devoid of intelligible content?"
"1 minute, Dummy Mode on?"
"30 Seconds - backed up with glossy brochures?"
"Could you write it for me?"
"Of course. So you talk to The Boss, he doesn't understand a word of it, let alone have the ability to repeat it, but he needs his kudos, so he'll get you to spout off to the Head of IT, who will glaze over quicker than a donut in a freezer - He'll make you say it to the board, they'll think that whatever the hell you're saying sounds fantastic, and so much better than the 'invest cautiously in emerging technology' that the opposition board are saying, and we'll all be happy."
"You think it' will work?"
"Bloody BOUND to!"
One speech later...
"That was... very enlightening," The Boss burbles, coming out of his coma. "You know, I think we should talk to The Head about this. I'll cover the main points, and you just fill in the blanks."
Another speech later...
"Yes..." The Head of IT says, sneakily closing Solitaire on his PDA. "Very interesting. I was just saying to the board last week that we should be investing more in that, um, wassisname technology to replace our redundant thingies. I know, why don't you tell them what you just told me - I'm sure they'd appreciate it straight from the horses mouth, so to speak"
Another speech later...
"…" a Board Member breathes, looking around expectantly for someone else to say something.
"Yes" The Chairman says. "Couldn't agree more, fascinating. AND I SUPPOSE, the REASON you told us all this is because you'll be wanting a larger technical and training budget next year?"
"Well obviously there are costs involved in an undertaking of this nature," The Head says, tapping a wodge of brochures the PFY and I recently pulled out of the middle of some geek mags.
"And redundant fibre-optic coupling of multiple VLANs over an mixed-mode data infrastructure doesn't come cheap."
"Well I guess I don't need to be told twice the cost of keeping up with the industry," The Chairman sighs benevolently. "So I suppose you should put the proposal, and maybe this little talk as an intro, into next year's business plan."
"Ah, one question?" a Board Member asks.
"Yes?" The PFY replies.
"What did all that MEAN?"
"You mean you didn't understand it?" I butt in, sympathetically "But I got my assistant to word it so simply."
"Well what does, er, SAN mean?"
"Storage Area Network."
"And what does that have to do with Wireless Access Points?"
"They're all technology that we're looking at implementing."
"But they don't have anything to do with each other do they?"
"Nothing - except they're both about the future of computing at the company? Honestly! Now, who'd like some free pens?"
Master Plan: Nothing kills a dissenting voice quicker than a stampede for freebies... ®