Read Cindy's bio and previous columns
March 12, 2009
An Ode to Antonyms (Or,
Why Would My Ducks Be in a Row?)
love antonyms. Saying them. Thinking about them. Being them.
Maybe it all started with being height-challenged. I’ve never grown past
four feet, 10 inches, but to be honest, on most days, I feel very tall.
I take up the whole mirror! I don’t know I’m standing two inches away
from it while most people have to stand two feet away.
When I was an intern at a large public relations firm, I acted like
James, who was one of our senior account executives. James would pick up
the phone and call the editor of the New York Times as if they’d
been best friends for years. I started doing that, too, and whenever I
talk to someone 10 management layers above me, I pull out my inner
I’m also dumb, but I think I’m smart. You get the point.
Doing, saying and feeling the opposite of what a lot of people do, say
and feel in business is part of my job as a creative person. And I’ve
decided that it’s time to take it to a whole new level. First, let us
educate the business folk on phrases to stop saying, and how to replace
them with their antonyms. Trust me. It will be good for you.
First, there’s synergy.
Completely kidnapped from science and utterly abused by people with MBA
on their nameplates, when in fact, most people prefer separation when it
comes to most projects – stuff simply gets done faster that way. And we
like to get things done, because then we can move on to the next thing
to be done.
next time you have the urge to ask someone if the project has been
synergistic across IT, communications, marketing, inventory management
and sales, ask them instead how their siloed projects are coming.
Guarantee you’ll get a more enthusiastic answer about things moving
forward. It will put a spring in your step – and theirs.
And then, there are the ducks. Are mine in a row?
Heck no! If they were in a row, it would only make them easier to hit
when you shoot them down like the evil,
not-based-on-enough-market-research little bastards that they are. I
prefer to come to you when my ducks are scattered. Some are in the pond,
so they can stick their heads under water at the first sign of trouble.
Others are have wandered up on the shore – trying to find food as their
meeting schedule does not allow for lunch.
And one of my ducks is trying to bark. He gets that you have to be a
little different to stand out from the pack.
These are my ducks – take them or leave them. Rather than asking me if
they’re all in a row, just ask me if they’re bringing value today. That,
I can answer yes to. And I can tell you exactly what kind of value
they’re bringing, even if you don’t think they’re in a row.
I’d also like once – just once – for someone to say in a meeting, “I am
the devil’s worst enemy,” rather than his advocate. Tom Kelly, who wrote
the 10 Faces of Innovation, agrees with me on this one – so I
guess I can’t be too dumb.
The devil’s worst enemy will take everything that his advocate says, and
turn it around on him in an accusatory – and for the rest of us in the
meeting – highly entertaining manner. When the advocate says, “Our sales
force won’t like that idea,” the worst enemy will first throw something
at him. A pen. A notebook. A Coke bottle. Then, she’ll say, “You are an
idiot. We pay this sales force. This is a free country. If they hate it
so much, they can find another job. Aw, what’s wrong, little advocate –
can’t take any of your own medicine . . . wah!” Advocate then leaves the
meeting, and we’re actually able to ideate.
Which brings me to “ideate.” People. That word already had a definition,
and it isn’t the same as brainstorm. It simply means think. So when you
say to me, “Let’s get together and ideate,” what I am thinking is –
“Why? Can’t you ideate for yourself?”
That’s right. You can’t. But you can do the opposite of that – which is
not think. It’s clearly hurting your head to come up with all of these
words and phrases, anyway.
the day comes when my ducks ever achieve the synergy necessary to ideate
sufficient to fill your silos, it would probably be a good idea for you
to go ahead and shoot them.
© 2009 North Star Writers
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