Monday, October 26, 2009

Buzz Kill: Death to the Buzz Words

After having some fun with this on Twitter (#AntiBuzzWords), I decided to compile and expand it into a blog. I, like many other people, detest buzz words. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Maybe if you're trying to impress your boss, or your boss's boss, but the rampant overuse of these words drives me crazy. And they're often used in place of any real thought or communication. I'm guilty of it too, but we have to break the cycle and start using real conversation again.

Here are my top 8 worst corporate buzz words...

  • Empowerment - Yes, leaving me out on a limb to figure this shit out for myself is quite empowering. And when did management begin to think task delegation is akin to knighthood?

  • Proactive - let's anticipate and react before the crisis. Who am I, Kreskin? And that would be preactive, Einsteins.

  • Bandwidth - how much bandwidth do you have? I'm not a freaking modem, I'm a human being! I can't multithread or multitask, or bend the space-time continuum. I'm busy!

  • Metrics - I need the metrics by COB. You mean measurements? Seriously? Let's cut to the chase - you mean you need a bunch of numbers, and you're not really a math whiz, and you're just going to pass them to someone else, who also isn't a math whiz, so how about skipping the metrics and we start speaking English. What do you really want to know?

  • Synergy - combined interactions among different departments and employees to achieve a desirable outcome. Great idea. But first, we just need to fire all the assholes, discourage politics and competition, and set up a healthy environment where employees actually could collaborate with employees at all levels instead of stew in total isolation in their cubes.

  • Holistic - It really means looking at things as a whole system instead of its individual parts (*cringe* "staying out of the weeds"), but it's often implied as looking at a project or issue from multiple perspectives. I love that concept, but let's face it. Most business people are one-dimensional. You know what? You're wholistic. And the only thing you can make out at 50,000 feet is a land mass, and certainly not my house.

  • Think Outside the Box - Just as clever as "color outside the lines". Excuse me. What do you call the 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 cloth-walled workspace you stuck me and the other lemmings in? A cube? It's a fucking box. Let me out and I'll start to think again.

  • At the End of the Day - the most overused phrase in any office. At the end of the day, we're just making widgets. Really? Waxing poetic? Bullshit. If you had an ounce of Zen in your body, you'd stop freaking over all the things out of our control, and you'd throw the TPS Reports and rest of the red tape in the recycling bin where it belongs.

And you know this wouldn't be any fun without creating our own phrases. I call them my anti-buzz words...

  • Crater Effect - Impact? Crater effect! As in, how many tectonic plates will shift after the meteor shit storm if we choose to go with your strategy?

  • At the End of the Meeting - Why wait until the end of the day when we can acknowledge right freaking now this project is doomed?

  • Devaluation - A pre-biased assessment of a proposal you know you hate before you even read it. Yay. Ernie's got another idea. Can't wait to devaluate it, big guy! Or, a performance review given by an unpleasable boss who loathes you. Did you get your devaluation yet? Me either.

  • Spynergy - Who needs the truth when you have a full marketing department at your disposal? (And bonus word: spynergistic - something especially spin-worthy.)

  • Factionable - I understand it doesn't meet the timeline, but what if we add more resources? Is it factionable?

  • Inanonymous - Total absurdity with complete deniability and zero accountability.

  • Schemeless - A totally undetectable plan, or even plan for a plan.

  • Preactive - I'd like you to be able to react before whatever "it" is happens, or I'll undoubtedly blame you for not foreseeing "it."

  • Best of Greed - The corporate bible of executive practices.

Your input is valuable. I empower you to share in the comments! Though we're missing face time, it's good to touch base through your BB. Shift your paradigm. Streamline your takeaways and join us in this sea change of diverse contingency planning, and circle back for some low-hanging fruit and a mindshare. It really can be a win-win.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Ortho Home Defense Against Mice Is Overkill

I'm not sure if you've seen the TV commercial for the Ortho Home Defense Max Kill & Contain (TM) Mouse Trap, but I've got a few issues with it.

First of all, "Max Kill"? Dead is dead. No maximum kill is necessary. Honestly, it doesn't even make sense. A minimum kill is still a kill. I'm sure there's a marketing axiom behind the name, just like there must be one behind using a nine-word product title.

I understand that rodents can bring germs into your house and leave droppings. So do your neighbor's kids. I hope you wouldn't dispose of them.

The video for this product on Ortho's web site opens with "learn. do. enjoy." Enjoy? Domestic blood lust? I don't think so.

Don't just take my word for it. Check it out for yourself: Ortho "Instructional" video.

I'm sure you'll be happy to know it's safe around pets, the cute animals in your home you don't feel like killing today.

The TV commercial is especially callous. A happy couple sets a trap, then later tosses it away in the trash, smiling and without a second thought. Come on. You just killed a little field mouse. You don't feel anything?

And that's my problem with this campaign. Preventing disease, I understand. Getting unwelcome house guests out of your home, I totally understand. But killing without remorse, and with enjoyment? It's too much for a marketing campaign, and insulting. Especially when there are kinder alternatives, where you don't have to touch the animal.

I had a roommate a few years ago who kept our kitchen's pantry stocked like a feed silo. One winter, with lots of nearby construction activity, we had a mouse.

I learned of this the first time in the bathroom, when he shot out from the corner and I shot up in the air, screaming like a 1950s housewife straight out of Looney Toons. I didn't actually grab my hem or pearls as I leaped up onto the toilet, but that's only because I was clutching air...and I'm a man. But I'm sure I hit a high C. I was startled, OK?

But I learned a lot from this experience. Mice run along the walls. And they're freaking fast. They're also cute as hell.

I decided I wasn't going to set a classic trap, the French Revolution-inspired guillotine-type that snaps - it's disgusting and cruel. Plus I'm anxious around helium balloons, afraid they may pop. Mouse traps set me into hyper-freak.

I wasn't going to use a slow-death trap with glue. And I wasn't poisoning anything. So I decided to go the live trap route. I found a site online called Havahart that specializes in live traps. I also found out they had local retailers.

I love animals, but I didn't want this guy living in my home, especially while I tried to sleep. So I went to the local hardware store and bought the smallest trap they had, the model #1025. Which I learned, after feeding the mouse for several days and not catching him, was meant for squirrels or raccoons. So I went online and ordered a smaller, more appropriate trap (model #1020 for mice), and had it shipped.

I used a ritz cracker with peanut butter and caught him the same day. I thought he might panic but he was quite calm. I read that if I just let him go outside, which I was tempted to do, he'd most likely find his way back, even from a distance. So I took Mortimer J. Mouse - yes, I named him - in his trap, and placed the trap in a shoebox, and then put him in the front seat of my car, and drove several miles to a park and ride that backed to acres of undeveloped land, not houses. And I let him go.

When I opened the trap, I thought he'd take off like a rocket. He had to be coaxed. He looked up at me, and then took off.

Yes, I thought a hawk would swoop down after my week of effort, but Mortimer was spared. At least for the night.

I didn't kill him. I solved my rodent problem. He didn't come back. And I was able to sleep again, for two reasons. No noises in the wall and no guilt for killing a cute little mouse that was simply looking for some food and some warmth.

Have a heart, Ortho.