The Boardroom

The Boardroom

Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” but for overworked CTOs everywhere.

Once upon a morning dreary, sipping coffee, stressed and bleary,

As discussion filled the boardroom of a miserable Q4,

Whilst I nodded, loafers tapping to avoid untimely napping,  

Future roads, we soon were mapping of the revenues in store,

Optimistic (read: delusion) ‘bout the revenues in store,

Leader-schtick–and nothing more.

Ah distinctly I remember, ‘twas the middle of December,

Each “strategic team,” each member left their chairs to take the floor.

Corporate platitudes they’d borrow of an opulent tomorrow,

As an existential sorrow drowned my young, ambitious core,

As the sanitized proceedings quashed a young ambitious core–

Just a tool for evermore.

As the buzzwords, flung with vigor, aimed our numbers to rejigger,

I controlled the urge to snigger as I surely knew the score:

No more bullets in the pistol, concrete actions, flawed or distal,

Hence the hazy ball of crystal and the platitudes before,

Nothing tangible attaching to the platitudes before,

“Rah rah rah,” and nothing more.

But the meeting rambled longer, and the rhetoric grew stronger,

“We shall rend the competition into blood and guts and gore!”

Soon the lap dogs started lapping, forced to foment with their clapping,

Every comment overlapping with the shibboleths and lore.

Sycophantic repetitions of the shibboleths and lore.

Sound and fury, nothing more.

Soon amidst the domineering, and the vapid, empty cheering,

Rose a voice from engineering, some decorum to restore,

“While I’m rarely so outspoken, you folks surely must be jokin’...

...may I share the joint you’re smokin’?” (he’d been silent heretofore)

“Not the faintest whiff of data drove the discourse heretofore.”

 Leaders grumbled, others swore.

An inflection, thus discerning, to the lectern, thus returning,

The critique, a bit concerning to the old esprit de corps,

“We must swiftly acclimate the luddite fools to using data!”
Spoke the C-suite’s oldest mate (a clapping robot just before)

Stole the mike, the room, and meeting after silence just before,

Then he stumbled out the door.

Presently, the leader stuttered, knowing where their bread was buttered,

An initiative was crafted prior growth rates to restore

“Surely,” said they, “new reliance on the tools of data science,

With each business head’s compliance, will cause revenue to soar.

With AI, ML, and data, soon our revenue will soar,” 

But the challenge lay in store

(And do not call me “Shirley,” that’s a nickname I abhor)

With the tech team, reconciling, massive ticket queues compiling,

Open office plans restyling filled with bean bag chairs galore,

“To construct these data havens filled with academic mavens,

Sack the polo-clad, clean-shavens, hire coders to explore,

Seek the database’s treasures, and this mystery explore!”

Thus, the challenge...and the chore.

But the org-chart still was stolid, and the database, still squalid, 

Thus the footing stayed unsolid, from the C-suite to the floor.

Nothing further thus conveying, no alternatives displaying 

Merely monetary praying, proffered prattle at its core,

“Are we nimble?  Can we pivot, shake this boardroom to its core?”

Quoth the maven, “nevermore.”

With a culture bureaucratic and a plan unsystematic,

Even leaders charismatic are superfluous decor, 

“Why the snarky disagreeing?  Don’t you find the comments freeing?

What precludes your eyes from seeing?  Can’t we find some geeks offshore?

Isn’t talent on demand, for cheap, accessible offshore?”

Quoth the maven, “nevermore.”

Leaders pondered riches fabled from competitors enabled

By AI whose gains belie the cautious planning at their core.

For amidst the boardroom dreaming lay deliberate, thoughtful scheming,

Long before shareholders’ beaming lurked the insight as its ore

Better answers follow questions, mining insight as the ore,

True since Turing’s days of yore.

But professional bravado from a boardroom desperado,

Rarely leads to El Dorado, just the fate we all deplore.

So the hours passed in meetings, filled with copacetic greetings

And the periodic beatings as the numbers failed to soar,

Days to weeks to months to quarters as the numbers failed to soar.

Laws of Murphy trumping Moore…

Soon the maven, now addressing the frustrations long repressing,

No numerical caressing for the corporate commodore,

For despite the data mining and bean bag chair reclining,

There was little silver lining, for the ship had crashed ashore,

Aspirations of ascension crashed like waves upon the shore–

Damaged brand for evermore.

Leaders felt the air grow denser from the flows of unseen tensors,

Every dashboard as a sensor of the suffering in store,

“We will implement suggestions!  We can answer client questions!

Clear these database congestions!  Help, oh maven I adore?

Smooth divisions and dissension, vaunted maven I adore?”

Quote the mAvEn, “nevermore.”

“Prophet!” (Vitriol medieval) “Why such technical upheaval?

Simple queries and retrieval bring some knowledge to the fore?”

But the maven sat undaunted by the leaders they had haunted

As the figures leaders wanted sat uncleaned the month before

“Can we now distill perceptions of some sales the month before?”

Quote the mAvEn, “nevermore.”

“Profit!” Screamed the leader raging, “And the losses need assuaging!”, 

But the maven, not engaging, neither saint nor warrantor... 

“We’re bereft of corporate baubles, merely internecine squabbles,

Every unit needs their numbers, each bespoke and furthermore…

...can we have this all by Friday, just this once, we swear!” (they swore)

Quoth the mAvEn, “nevermore.”

“But the fiscal year is starting!  We need wisdom for imparting

Via random, one-off charting!” did the leader now implore,

“Would you also mind eschewing flagging figures you’re renewing?

There’s a risk of ‘misconstruing’ when we take this to the board.” 

Will you fabricate improvement for the deck we show the board?

Quote the mAvEn, “nevermore.”

The reality is tragic, for ML is math, not magic,

Either plan and stay pragmatic or a hellish fate’s in store...

Though the maven, seeming callous to the vaunted corporate palace,

Sipped no Kool-aid from the chalice, just some candor, nothing more,

Inspiration, preparation, execution, nothing more,

Or we prosper nevermore.


Written by: Evan Coopersmith & AE Studio

Grow at Agency Enterprise

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