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attack of the hairdryerheads
high-level thinking unraveled
by jeff miller (@jmillerboston)
pop culture

It seems I am doomed to spend my daytime hours forced into working relationships that I would otherwise never begin, let alone maintain.

Sound familiar? Do you find yourself surrounded by people who get paid to be High-Level Thinkers? If so, then you are probably as disgusted as I am with these human-shaped suits with hairdryers for heads. They are tightly wound, poised at the ready on their pointed little toes, just waiting to blow hot air at any work that you are responsible for.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitter - In fact I pity these poor, brown-nosed busybodies. Maybe they had terrible childhoods - maybe they weren't allowed to watch The Dukes of Hazzard or Battlestar Galactica.
Perhaps they're simply the progeny of generations of fence-sitting, middle-of-the-road bores everywhere.

The crazy thing is how much these people get paid to listen to themselves talk. Personally, I've had enough - here's a little High-Level Thinking for the Hairdryerheads.

Let's look at the word "work" for a moment. On its own, it really means nothing. It begs to be qualified with measurable units. Let's say these measurable units are results. Let's envision them as fluid ounces of substance and detail.

The Hairdryerheads are quite fond of "Looking at the Big Picture" and "Adding Value" and "Owning Their Challenge." They are primarily concerned with making broad statements which serve as brick walls to squash any details (see: results) that might lead to actual solutions.

At the end of the day, the Hairdryerheads unplug themselves, wrap up their power cords and hurry away, presumably to an Offline Sidebar Meeting.

The Low-Level Thinkers are left to stare blanky at whiteboards filled with indecipherable glyphs and horribly misspelled Action Items.

My point is this: If "work" is qualified by measurable units of "results" and "details," then the supposed High-Level Thinkers are producing LOWER LEVELS OF RESULTS.

Internet businesses suffer greatly from this herd of vapid shape-shifters (Gee, maybe I do sound a little bitter). This is, after all the new frontier, and nobody can really claim to be an expert. We have to be flexible. We have to improvise. We have to be utterly non-commital to any kind of strategic process. We have to decipher the true meaning of dressing "Business Casual."

We have to drink Double Tall Two Percent Dry Cappuccinos, because coffee just doesn't do it anymore. The coffee generation died with disco - us GenXers are hardcore substance abusers. I need to be jacked up to the friggin' roofbeams so I can fake a smile when some Hairdryerhead decides to ask me how I'm doing.

Wise up, all you millenium startups with your Core Values and Human Resources sponsored office parties. The age of the fop is upon us, and they're raking in the big bucks while you helplessly wonder where all your venture capital has gone.

How do we fix this? How do we convince the corporate world that the middle management hedgehogs are eating away the floormats of our Chryslers? Chewing the lint out of our capitalist bellybuttons? For God's sake, they're tearing up and down and around the Starbucks carpeting, leaving behind smoking, crop circle-like caricatures of Molly Ringwald and David Lee R..

Maybe I'm going crazy. Maybe it's just me. Perhaps all I need to do is take a little vacation time, and get some perspective. Pull back a bit, and assess the situation. I just need to relax, let go of my preconceptions. I need to Think Outside of the Box, and take a Look at the Big Pic...



Brown eyes, brown hair, bluejeans and a T-shirt. Digs loud guitars and good design. Easily hypnotized by green-eyed blondes, shiny leather, B-movies, and brightly packaged foods. He's got a bustle in his hedgerow - but he is NOT alarmed.

more about jeff miller


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adam kraemer
10.12.00 @ 10:51a

Don't tell me you actually want to get things done?

jeff miller
10.12.00 @ 11:42a

sometimes, when they forget to humiliate me for a while. i do get motivated to, you know, add value...

adam kraemer
10.12.00 @ 12:39p

See? There's your problem. As Homer says, "When you don't like your job, you don't quit. You just do it half-assed."

joe procopio
10.13.00 @ 1:25a

There is no worse sector for this than the web, where 10% of the people in the industry have any idea what's going on... if that.

Battlestar Galactica was one of the greatest shows of all time and does not get its due.

roger striffler
10.13.00 @ 9:46a

I think you'll find most hairdryerheads hanging out in larger corporations, which are traditionally much slower to evolve, and are more prone to the "consultants can save us" syndrome. I think most smaller, newer companies have a better grasp on the real issues and tend to have less sockets for the hairdryerheads to plug into. Oh yeah, and stop slamming hedgehogs...

jeff miller
10.16.00 @ 6:51p

My apologies to Hedgehogs everywhere - I never meant to imply that middle-managers were anywhere near as useful and interesting as our cute, prickly-backed friends.

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