We used to play a game, my colleagues and I. It was in a different place from where I am now and we were much younger then. The nature of the game was to take a new piece of jargon and use it over and over again until it became part of the vernacular, until it was played back to us. I remember using the word granularity. We’d picked it up from one of the big four consultants. It captured their zeitgeist and replaced a perfectly good word – detail.
Instead of saying we needed more detail we would say we needed greater granularity. The trick was to use it sufficiently often to get it to stick (I could have mentioned stick-ability) but not often enough to make it obvious what we were doing.
When one of the directors eventually used the expression in a meeting, I caught the eye of my colleague and we gave each other a wry smile. Oh how we laughed. Granularity had its moment. It shone brightly in its zenith only to burn out as quickly as it had appeared. It was a supernova and I’m pleased to say is not in such common usage anymore.
That’s the nature of jargon. It becomes tarnished very quickly only to be replaced by the latest buzz phrase. It is not long before a new and exciting phrase becomes tired and clichéd. Think of cloud or hard-working families and you know what I mean.
Occasionally though things get played back to you that you weren’t expecting. Seeds that you had sown many months ago, not as a game but in all earnest, start to bear fruit. This has happened to me twice in the last week.
The first was when my boss came to tell me about the great things that have been going on in Audit. They’ve gone agile. Offices have been changed into meeting rooms, PCs have been replaced with tablets and desks have become communal. It was great to hear about this but I knew already. It was our work that made it happen and it was with the support of our colleagues in Audit that made it a reality. It was great to hear it played back to me with such enthusiasm.
The second was when we were in a meeting talking about a major piece of work that was struggling to get off the ground. Everything is about relationships and these hadn’t been formed yet around the outcomes and objectives we were, collectively, aiming for. We were still acting as individuals with separate plans and separate requirements. It was obvious that something needed to change.
One of my colleagues suggested that we all meet for lunch. We could talk over the issues in a less intense environment. We could chew the cud by getting together over a sandwich and a cup of tea. The person who suggested it was someone that I’d met for lunch a few months back for very similar reasons, to build a relationship outside of the formal settings in which we normally meet. Lunch can be a very potent weapon.
I’ve ordered some sandwiches for later on in the month.