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Wonko the Sane and Gubble-Gubble. A software opportunity?

Published 24 August 2007 3:50 pm

You know how it is? You’re reading a paragraph, reach the end, and then ask yourself what, in the name of Beelzebub, that last damned paragraph was about. You shrug in reply and go back to that twilight zone between animal and vegetable, whilst bracing yourself for the next paragraph.

There is nothing for it but to find something more interesting. On this particular occasion, it involved reading Neil’s wonderful blog entry ‘Porridge, Wonko the Sane and restrooms: the good, the bad and the ugly of user assistance’

When I returned to the dismal task of reading through documents on Microsoft’s Business web site Something strange had changed. The next paragraph, and the subsequent ones, just read like gubble gubble. The idea of Wonko The Sane had distorted my reality. His wisdom had lodged in my brain, and wouldn’t flush out.

‘It seemed to me,’ said Wonko the Sane, ‘that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to include a set of detailed instructions for us in a packet of toothpicks was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.’

It is not just documentation and instructions for computer software that have diverged from common speech and discourse, and taken on a life of its own quite divorced from its original purpose. Some of the literature of software in the Microsoft business site seems bizarre because it has become unhinged from its purpose of communication in favour of a hypnotic repetition of marketing mantras designed to appeal to the emotions rather than the intellect. I don’t blame them in particular; the western world of business seems to have retreated into a strange private language.

people-ready business …gubble gubble…brittle business processes …gubble gubble… maturity continuum …gubble gubble…monolithic line-of-business (LOB) applications …gubble gubble…complex development tools and processes. …gubble gubble…agile and adaptive paradigm shift …gubble gubble…true partners of a business. …gubble gubble…Interoperate…gubble gubble…Core Solutions …gubble gubble…scalable data infrastructure …gubble gubble…Scalable management processes. …gubble gubble……seamlessly interact …gubble gubble…Feature-rich …gubble gubble… Attack surface…gubble gubble…Per-service basis…gubble gubble…transform valuable enterprise data …gubble gubble…can leverage the capabilities…gubble gubble…A true corporate asset…gubble gubble…ongoing business value. …gubble gubble…a scalable and extensible architecture…gubble gubble…An adaptive application platform …gubble gubble…strong business partnerships …gubble gubble…Aligning IT with the Business …gubble gubble…empowering people, …gubble gubble…driving the business forward.

I sat up and blinked, shaking myself out of the hypnotic state that reading these phrases invoked

What if Microsoft people really spoke and thought like this? I present to you the opening paragraphs of…

The Diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man

I woke up, in a ‘one stop’ process requiring a subtle paradigm shift. I was in my bed at home, a complete integrated platform. The Sun™ was streaming through the Windows™. The world outside seemed people-ready. To drive decisions on getting out of bed, I enumerated multiple insightful, timely reasons for aligning with domestic goals in a familiar and powerful way.

On reaching the kitchen, I achieved unparalleled connectivity in the kettle by plugging it in, and leveraged the capabilities of the toaster by switching it on in real time. Today, I felt I had a flexible and connected infrastructure around me. I empowered the agile and adaptive cat at every level by opening the cat-flap

I Drank multiple cups of Feature-rich coffee, a default slice of familiar and powerful toast followed by and optional one on a per-egg basis, and adopted best practices in the bathroom to support daily bowel operations. I seamlessly interacted with the bathroom mirror to transform the valuable face and exceed expectations. I interoperated with the toothbrush.

To support the bottom line I got into my trousers I added a belt in order to benefit from higher trouser reliability, improved manageability, and enhanced support. I felt I had reduced my attack-surface.

Once dressed, I could focus on the high-value task of getting to work and thereby maximize my interoperability, visibility and insight for more accurate resource allocation, prioritisation, and risk management. How optimal, I thought, to once more speed up delivery of business-critical solutions that deliver higher growth and comprehensive profitability, to achieve visibility, collaboration, and control

So it was once more down the garden path to start the journey to my office at Microsoft….


Thank you, that’s quite enough. Here we have an obvious software opportunity. You’ve heard of Readability indices haven’t you? These are software packages that you apply to the text you have written. It tells you instantly the ‘reading age’ of what you’ve written. Journalists on the Tabloid newspapers generally have to write their stories so someone with the reading age of an eight year old can cope. What about a Wonko index, a measure of the Marketing Techno-speak in a piece of writing. It simply counts all the Wonko phrases and computes an overall ‘Wonko’ score. Surely all software developers who have ever tried to plough through the business-oriented gubble-gubble of the IT industry will assist in flushing out those characteristic phrases and developing the software? 

13 Responses to “Wonko the Sane and Gubble-Gubble. A software opportunity?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I LMAOed.

  2. imassi says:

    Sounds like the inverse of the waffle generator. You might need a better brand name than “Wonko Score” for the product if you’d hope to make money off of it. Marketing Speak Base Score – MSBS? Vision Correlation Ascertation Marketability Index?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious, but unfortunately a bit too true for comfort, or should I say “..funny in a people-ready and mouth extensible architecture kind of way..”

  4. Anonymous says:

    Have you played with this?:
    Maybe MS have something similiar!

  5. Phil Factor says:

    I’m a great fan of SCIgen. However, IT Marketing-speak is language that is developing in a rather different direction. Any marketing man will tell you that there are books you can buy with the various words and phrases that you put into your marketing blather in order to impress the public, and lists of words or phrases to avoid that do the opposite. All that Microsoft seem to be doing is to inject such phrases into their papers to impress managers who can’t understand the technical content. There are several phrases that they seem to have made up themselves. All I’m really asking for is a list of all these ‘injected’ phrases so one can see instantly how much a white paper has been tampered-with. The ‘Diary of a marketing man’ takes real phrases taken from Microsoft’s site and strings them together ‘to enhance the bottom line and exceed expectations’

    The diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man was originally much longer. He next gets to his car and tries to start it by vaguely ‘empowering it’ with goals and ‘visions’ , and eventally calls a mechanic. There follows a dialogue of misunderstandings involving ‘key features’ and ‘key solutions’. finally he gets to work…

    I then decided that I ought to wait for the response to this before unleashing the full horror of…’The Diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man’….


  6. Anonymous says:

    Have a look at the Wonderful Wankometer:

  7. Phil Factor says:

    Aiee! The Wonderful Wankometer is fun! I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m not the first with the thought, whilst reading Microsoft’s business site. Of course, the Wonko index will effectively meet our readers needs by providing a critical business management solution with the key functionality to provide a single ‘one-stop’ source of data and platform for shared processes that provide a coordinated, customized, dedicated and cohesive response through discussion, prioritization, and planning. time for a lie-down

  8. Patrick Index says:

    OBN:- “Diary..” is a masterpiece. Favorite line?

    “I empowered the agile and adaptive cat at every level by opening the cat-flap”

  9. Anonymous says:

    There’s a program out there called “BullFighter” that I believe was originally written by someone at Deloitte-Touche.

    I’ve used it before on corporate memos and the like that got sent to us and it’s kind of funny sometimes to see just how much hash is being slung.

  10. Anonymous says:

    operationally aligned,
    data morgue,
    logon to our website,
    knowledge management,
    military intelligence,
    portal, portal, portal,
    SOAP, XML,
    information highway,
    web enabled,
    data bus,
    any RDB referred to as an operating system,
    smart guys,
    single sign-on,
    reuseable code,
    closed system,
    it’s all good,
    my bad,
    will be available 3rd quarter (with no year mentioned),
    web master,
    increasingly important to effective business operations,
    a flexible and agile way,
    combining existing logic and exposing it via reusable services,
    measurable benefits,
    strategic business decisions,
    cost-effective scalability,
    information security,
    system of systems,
    plans and programs,
    conveying significant amounts,
    IT service assurance,
    information assurance,
    lower cost with less complexity,
    targeting individuals who play a key role,
    deployment decisions by management,
    trends, benefits, and barriers,
    key role,
    budget squeeze, extensive budget,
    the idea of singularity,
    management summit,
    walk the walk,
    scalable, scalability of,
    wellness program (for in-animent objects),
    change keywords/location,
    change frequency,
    Give attendees the chance to meet in a small group (if they are attendees they must be already meeting)
    Head Shed

  11. Phil Factor says:

    Ah! Music, PhilMan. Music!

  12. Anonymous says:

    PhilMan left out “like” (used as a noise word)

  13. [...] The Diary of a Microsoft Marketing Man [...]

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