Leading Process Improvement the Vogon Way

(with apologies to the memory of Douglas Adams)

Recently promoted to Awful Prostetnic Vogon, Jeltz watched with dismal satisfaction as the Galactic Improvement Fleet moved into low orbit around the Earth. The cheerful panic-inducing yellow of the destructor fleet had been changed to a dull grey – an improvement in Jeltz’ mind. And the ships still hung satisfyingly in the sky in exactly the way that bricks don’t, which made the situation perfect. The appearance of the terrifyingly familiar ships began to cause panic in the streets below – the population of Earth remembered all too well what happened last time these ships appeared in the atmosphere.

“Well really” sighed Jeltz, “you think they notice the change in colour of the fleet and know what it means”

“Yessir!” shouted Low Prostetnic Myrzzz in his best military voice.

“Thank you number 4, there’s no need to shout”

“Nossir!!” even more loudly.

“I better try to reassure them, I suppose. Put me on the planetary announcement link”

With a vastly disproportionate rumbling in the bowels of the ship, a small transmitter extended itself about 30cm from the base of the huge ship.

Bzzz, crackle, screech. The Approximately Universal Translation circuits engaged.

“People of Earth” Jeltz’ voice echoed through the atmosphere at just the right pitch and volume to give anyone who heard it – that is everyone – a severe headache.

“I know that our last meeting didn’t really go very well, but that was hardly my fault, you could have travelled to Proxima Centauri and registered your protest against the hyperspace by-pass.”

Cries of protest from the surface could just be heard through the body of the ship.

“Oh, come on humanity, let by-gones be by-gones, eh?  After all you got your planet back eventually. Twice, actually. Here it is, better than ever – just think of all those new fjords that were put in around Africa.”

The protests from the surface reached a still higher volume.

“Now look, people of Earth, we’ve gone to the expense of changing the colour of our ships. You should know that we aren’t a destructor fleet anymore. We have been reclassified as an Galactic Improvement Fleet.”

Outside, screams of protest change into a questioning lack of comprehension.

“Oh, really, get a grip. You all know that the Galactic Improvement Team (GIT) at Galactic Central has formed a strategy to improve Earth and the rest of Solar System, to move you into the New Millennium.  We’ve set you mandatory performance goals and everything.”

Sounds of shouted denial penetrate from outside the ship.

“Well now, look here, if you can’t be bothered to read your hyper-mail, it’s no wonder you don’t know what’s going on. Anyway it’s too late now. We have just completed our first appraisal of Earth against GIMME. I have to say you haven’t done very well. Carry on at this rate and it will be back to the destructor fleet, you know.”

“Now look, Earth, it’s hardly our fault that you haven’t invented your hyper-mail client yet – you have to start making an effort, you know. And, really, claiming you don’t know about GIMME – the Galactic Improvement Method for Moderating Existence.  What did you think all those UFO kidnappings were for?”

“Well really, they weren’t just kidnapped, you know, they were the interviewees for the appraisal.”

“Anyway some of the interviewees did ok – they were the ones we returned mostly unharmed.  But there was an appalling lack of evidence. Despite all our hyper-mail requests, we didn’t receive a single document from you. We couldn’t find any trace of hyper-net activity and as for your entries in the guide, well ‘mostly harmless’ doesn’t get you very far in an appraisal, I can tell you”.

Cries of hysterical protest amplified from the surface.

“Now look, I don’t want to have to take this approach, but all the improvement plans are in place.  Of course we can’t let you have any extra resources, so you will just have to carry on doing all the things you do now and fix all these problems at weekends or overnight. After all you don’t really need sleep – you should be evolving beyond it by now.”

“What do you mean you don’t know about the plans? Really humanity, I expected better from you than this. Here we are trying to help you moderate your existence and all you can do is claim you don’t know anything about it.”

“Of course it’s up to you. But if you don’t achieve GIMME Moderation Level 3 by the middle of next year, the Galactic Improvement Team will have no choice but to shut your operation down.  If they make that decision, I will have to get all these ships re-painted yellow.  So come on Earth, pull your collective socks up and get on with it, will you.  Otherwise, I’ll be back. And so will the Destructor Fleet.”

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