Thursday, 10 April 2014

Dearth by Words

I love the English language, and hope to never completely understand all the workings of it. Half the fun in discovering a new or forgotten word is how best to use it - or not, depending on the case, as evidenced by my mediocre but enthusiastic writing style.

However, there appears to be a new breed of hireling within companies capable of good written words without anything in them. Not simply marketing drones of yore with dull, vacuous statements presented to senior management, before people nod politely and usher them toward the exit. No, earnest recommendations, strategic proposals, press releases, voxpops and entire paid-for presentations containing nothing - like the bastard children of Gus Hedges have spread into the workplace and are facilitating and engaging at every opportunity.

Worse is watching them accepted at face value. It's a little depressing to see one of two things occuring:
  • Emperor's new clothes. The audience don't dare to argue the point for fear of being isolated and left looking like they're the only one in the meeting who doesn't understand the point (not) being made. Thereby the speaker gains in confidence and can continue to issue nonsense under the guise of wisdom imparted.
  • I'm behind the times. Perhaps language has moved from simply telling us what should happen, to being a box of letters thrown together in a heap, like a sad, shaken-up travel Scrabble set and left for the audience to cherry pick what meaning they wish to derive from the words produced.
Part of me would like it to be the latter, but most of me believes it to be the former.

I'm reminded of a short passage from Asimov's Foundation when their fledgling society of Terminus is visited by a representative of the Empire, Lord Dorwin.

Hardin threw himself back in the chair. “You know, that's the most interesting part of the whole business. I admit that I thought his Lordship a most consummate donkey when I first met him – but it turned out that he is an accomplished diplomat and a most clever man. I took the liberty of recording all his statements.”

[...]

Lundin Crast asked, “And where is the analysis?”

“That,” replied Hardin, “is the interesting thing. The analysis was the most difficult of the three by all odds. When Houk, after two days of steady work, succeeded in eliminating meaningless statements, vague gibberish, useless qualifications—in short all the goo and dribble—he found he had nothing left. Everything canceled out. Lord Dorwin, gentlemen, in five days of discussion didn't say one @$#%^ thing, and said it so that you never noticed. There are the assurances you had from your precious Empire.”

When saying anything, it must boil down to something underpinning it. Using all the words available in the language is fine, but there must be a message in there.  The above is an example of someone at their finest (or worst) using the language to manipulate a version and understanding, but leaving the listener with nothing.

So our key takeaway from this coming together, is we should leverage our holistic view to combine human insights and next-gen technology to craft a reciprocal relationship to power meaningful connections that drive tangible results going forward. Sounds good news hounds? You bet.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Not That Amazing

Whenever I see someone post up statements like "I have the most amazing daughters anyone could have ever asked for" it does make me wonder how they define amazing.

Amazing would be children who can fly, speak four languages fluently by the time they're a year old ... or perhaps reshape the very landscape we walk through.

I say this as the Dad of what are obviously the most amazing daughters anyone could ask for.