The best evidence yet that Earth has been colonized by middle managers from beyond the stars. Ostensibly a system of parallel management1 ensuring that goals and standards are met by all levels of an organization, QA actually serves two masters: executive cowards and career bureaucrats. Imagine yourself the CEO of AnyCorp, Inc., fresh from a board meeting with a dozen pinched-faced, angry, frightened shareholders2 who want 15 percent of your employees sacrificed to the god of fiscal responsibility (see "Good, Change Is"). Fortunately, you have a secret weapon to keep your hands clean: The sociopathic aliens in QA can prepare a report forcing any number of terminations for any number of contrived failures. Need to cut out a few non-revenue-generating3 customer service reps? They'll demonstrate that CS loses 666 man-minutes each day to unauthorized chatting and will reach peak efficiency after hemorrhagic layoffs. How about that troublemaking warehouse laborer who keeps talking unions? What do you know—she can't keep up with her new hourly quotas. Bing bam boom,4 and you're off to Manila for a leadership seminar and sex tour.
Even more sinister than this institutionalized banality of evil is the power of QA to protect the unrestricted proliferation of managers. Like cancer and kudzu,5 QA is an unstoppable force of nature that grows until it kills its host. Goal-setting, cheese-moving bureaucrats are almost always spared the cold, skeletal hand of the Layoff Man—and for good reason. Before long, these space monsters will have turned all of our corporations, nonprofits, and governmental organizations into one vast network of managers managing other managers ad infinitum. People of Earth, I say resist! Throw off the yoke of extraterrestrial management! You have nothing to lose but your ergonomically correct chains!6
1. I want to cry all the time, but the tears never come. I feel like I'm broken inside.
2. God, I'm so lonely. Even when I go out with people, I can tell I'm not really with them, you know?
3. It's really hard to sleep at night. My mind races, I toss and turn, and then suddenly it's time to get up. It's really hard to get through the day like this.
4. I don't think I'll ever feel normal again. Is this despair?
5. I think my friends are avoiding me.
6. Is it always going to be like this? Can I go on this way forever?
Rob Lightner, Contrib.