In 2000-20001, I was an editorial writer at The Idaho Statesman and my boss was Chuck Malloy, who is still good for an occasional lunch when he’s not too cheap to make me pay.

After an editorial board meeting with state officials, I sensed the presence of a shadowy arm of government and business: The Bureau of Obstruction. At the time, the Gannett Corporation owned The Statesman and if any of you have worked for Gannett before, you know it is one of the most enthusiastically demoralizing companies to work for.

After some discussion, Chuck and I discovered that many people worked for the Bureau of Obstruction, or BOO. The BOO is active in all workplaces and has a very elaborate bureaucracy. So far, we have discovered the BOO has the following divisions in many institutions (thanks also to Mike Maharry for his contributions):

Bureau of Land Mine Management: Creates new ways of planting land mines under desks, carpets and boardroom tables.

Office of Morale Depletion: This division comes with its own enforcement arm, the Morale Taliban. Smile a lot, or you will lose a thumb or a toe. Employees with the most missing digits are eligible for manicure gift certificates.

High Commission on Belittlement: Conducts employee job reviews and screens applicants. It also conducts the “Loser of the Month” award for employees; recipients must contribute that month’s paycheck toward executive bonuses and are prohibited from parking in the company lot during that month.

The Committee of One: Assures all important decisions are arrived at through consensus among the sole Chief Obstructionist.

Division of Skeet Shooting: Among the busiest of divisions, its members are always present at brainstorming sessions and similar meetings and they work in cooperation with the Division of Hate All Shit.

Division of Blame Allotment: Determines who should be blamed for screw-ups, but only after thorough investigation and assessment of who would make the best scapegoat(s).

Division of Obfuscation Promulgation: Operationalizes seamless expanded multi-phased go-forward configured synergistic real-time collaborative outside-of-the-box strategically linked systems solutions to leverage core competencies and impact scalable streamlined solutions that are architected for tighter cross-platform actionable solutions integration and go-to-market strategy while efforting planfulness and solutions enhancement. Also writes press releases.

Office of Esteem Deflation: Approves employee evaluations.

Division of Exhaustion Facilitation: Operates employee wellness program.

Division of Salary Abatement: Reviews all requests for raises and maintains the company’s retirement programs.

Ministry of Discord: Uses its unlimited access to email, paper mail and employee files to collect and spread sensitive information.

Entrepreneurial Deterrent Network: Sets up and monitors “enterprise-free zones,” which can be as small as a desk or as large as an office building, to root out any vestiges of enterprise.

Division of Smiley Faces: Charged with improving the image of top brass. It is powerful, however, and has the authority to cancel tee times on a Friday afternoon if there is urgent happy news to report to the media.

Institute of Obstruction Arts & Sciences: Devoted to the cross-cultural study of the history, philosophy, technology and intellectual and spiritual dimensions of obstructionism; works to spread academic gobbledygook and deconstruct hegemonic paradigms in the received discourse; has degree programs for Certified Expert Obstructionist and Public Information Service Specialist.

Division of Hate All Shit: The most feared and powerful of all BOO divisions, it’s involved in practically all review functions in a company, including employee performance reviews, promotions, new hires, project proposals, budget prioritizing and it even opens the employee suggestion box.

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