For as long as I have walked on planet earth, the sport versus game debate regularly pops up. David Papineau is the most recent entry into the ongoing debate – at least as it pertains to the Olympics.
While many activities are both games and sports – tennis and golf, for instance – there are also sports that aren’t games – skiing and surfing, say – and games that aren’t sports – snakes and ladders, or chess and bridge, for that matter.
Papineau suggests that to be classified a sport requires a physical exertion. And then to make his point, talks a lot about Chess and Bridge. I get it. But how much ‘physical exertion’? Continue reading →
Sometimes Grammar Nazis are really funny – and sometimes they are a pain in the neck, and if you watch this video you’ll see what I mean. But there is no smoke without fire.
I had an email exchange recently through one of the many lists I belong to. I popped in and dropped my usual pithy comment and back, (rather unusually actually), came a reply; telling me that I was ‘splitting hairs’. The writer went on to write – “Consumer = user = audience = customer, etc.” I do hope that I am not seen as a grammar nazi, but if that’s what it takes to get people to think about how we use language, so be it.
Language is essential to be able to convey the true meaning of what we are saying. There is a reason that the OED contains nearly 200,000 words and each of the words do have different meanings.
“I look to see if someone has a marine strategy, for taking the beach; an army strategy, for taking the country; and a police strategy, for governing the country afterward.”
… the ‘someone’ is the exec in a pitch meeting with Reid and Greylock on their latest business idea.
Over the years the brand / enterprise / corporate speak that has dominated our culture for decades is now in the day to day language of people. If we continue to use the language of the enterprise to describe what we want as people we will fail to take back our humanity. That is the topic of a third article that I hope to see published in a series I have recently written.
So … what do I mean ?
Consider Twitter … (just to pick one of the many options).
As a user of twitter I am absolutely not a ‘customer’, I am a ‘user’
For their ‘customers’, (those who Twitter sell things like placement of messages to), I am indeed part of that customer’s ‘audience’.
To Twitter, I am also probably part of their ‘product’.
My point is that the definition of who I am is highly contextual when it comes to me the individual. On the other hand it serves Enterprises well to conflate the definitions. Broadening my example base, why wouldn’t Facebook want to call me ‘their customer’ … doesn’t that sound better than their ‘user’ or even their ‘product’? And corporate speak is renowned for brevity and over simplification.
But there’s more. Vendors, brands, enterprises have lived in their industrialized world for too long. If they call all of us customers, then there is already a set up in play – you are already a customer, you are part of the ‘collective’. In fact, Salesforce actually see the internet as “An Internet of Customers”. Seriously ? And though this link might seem to be buried – these were the words that Marc Benioff used when they launched Salesforce1.
I have a bit of a thing going at the moment about people and their individuality, one example in this article just published last week – where I write:
As people, we need the power to manage brands, let alone just keep them at bay. Are we just going to roll over and allow brands, corporations, governments, data agencies, and the like to keep building bigger and more personal profiles about us? Or are we — as John Lennon would have it — really going to give “Power to the People“?
I believe that it is incumbent on any community that it is attempting to change the status quo to be absolutely precise about what it means. If we switch and interchange terms without thought, the message becomes garbled – and it will be co-opted to their detriment to prove an alternative point. More importantly, if we simply adopt the language of the previous system – we will also adopt the behaviors, the methods, the … nothing will change. And the fact is, change is going to happen. I just want it on our terms, not theirs.
What do you think ? Is it time to bring clarity to how we communicate ?
Post Script ::: BTW – I hope you will agree that I have clearly demonstrated by the use of language in this article that I am incapable of being a Grammar Nazi 🙂
I’ve had a couple of rants recently about definitions. I do try not to be the grammar police – but I do like clarity and I have commented in many other places how people seem to use the various examples of SocialXXX interchangeably.
It drives me NUTS. Seems like Nilofer Merchant is being driven in the same direction >>>>
We often think that everybody knows what we are talking about, as in the terms we use. We don’t. I did a very simple presentation 30 years ago at a large US corporation (at the time I was part of a UK based subsidiary. I was trying to demonstrate that confusion was rife on how the UK and the US communicated. Was it George Washington that suggested that “we are two countries divided by a common language.” ?
If two countries who speak the same language can’t even agree what to call something – confusion will reign and EXTRA care should be taken in communication between the US and the UK. (This is an important lesson – most people if they heard French or German spoken will make an effort to understand what is being said. But when you hear your own language – you assume you understand. You don’t. In fact it is even worse – since an American will go out of their way to apply local names and pronunciation when in a foreign country – EXCEPT the UK _ whereas American pronunciation is routinely applied to cities like Edinburgh (not <Edinborough, Edinboro or Edinbrough) and counties like Worcestershire 🙂
Anyway – back to the presentation, where I raised mini issues such as ….
a trunk, (of a car, a tree and an elephant)
a boot, (of a car and as something to cover the foot)
a bonnet, (of a car and as something to cover the head)
a hood, (again of a car and as something to cover the head)
The net net is that a ‘car boot’ in the UK is a very different thing to the US – and of course we in the UK we truly believe our cars are feminine – since the engine is protected with a bonnet – whereas in the US it is protected my a ‘manly ‘hood”.
And so – to my point ….. if we can’t even agree on what words mean – then all hell breaks loose as we connect those words to make phrases and sentences.
Take Social Selling.
I recently contacted someone about working with them to enable Social Selling in their enterprise and unleash the latent power of their networks yada yada. I got a reply saying that they would love to learn more – but “what is social selling” ?
Lesson learned – because this person works in a company that on its website espouses all the aspects that I believe to be part of ‘social selling’ – that’s why I wanted to connect – but when I looked again at the site – no reference to that term.
Social Media Today defines the term thus
Social selling is a new way to approach a sales process that allows you to stay relevant with your prospect when you would normally go dark during off periods of non-communication. Social selling allows you to stay connected with your prospects and build a relationship with them that goes beyond a vendor toward a trusted advisor.
It’s an uphill battle because the two sides are often speaking different languages. Impressions, amplification, reach, true reach, audience, fans, followers and engagement are not as clearly defined to everyone as they may be to those of you reading this paper. It’s like having dinner with a bunch of people in the health care industry who are talking HCAHPS, HIPAA requirements and ACOs — the details are lost in translation, and if you were asked to remember what you heard the next day, you’d be S.O.L.
The source of the quote above doesn’t matter. what matters is over and over again how we fail to understand who we are talking to and how they are observing.
There is no point broadcasting if there is nobody receiving.
Have you ever thought about how caught up we get in titles and departments and naming things. For example, someone once described their role to me as follows …
“Actually I am in Sales. Specifically Inside Sales. Well really – when I say Inside Sales – I am a Senior Outbound Telesales Executive, with responsibility for the digital acquisition of Western Region Customers.”
Say What ?
I was reminded of this today when I heard a discussion around the need to rename Inside Sales. Apparently ‘we need to rename inside sales to remove the stigma and old thinking around that term.’ Terms raised included Virtual Sales, Digital Sales and Social Sales.
How about just calling calling it Sales ?
Here’s my take
The differences between venerable institutions such as ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ are hardly understood – much less “Virtual Sales, Digital Sales, Social Sales”. The world is all about the customer – not how we organize.
How we do that (the orgs, the teams, the people, the hierarchy is meaningless to anybody outside a company – they don’t care – and nor should they)
I firmly believe that
introducing more new terms is self defeating
forever subdividing internal orgs with meaningless terms is self defeating
continuing made up separation of organizations is self defeating
continuing to use terms that border on the ‘pejorative’ is self defeating
focussing on the organization – not the customer – is self defeating