One of the reasons I’m so fussy about some language usage is that we rely on words to convey meaning. One of the most difficult aspects of communication among humans is the fact that what I say may not be what you hear. Obviously this is not an audio problem. It’s one of interpretation. Words have different meanings depending on context. Take for example, the word ‘wind.’ Is it a noun or a verb? We’re not even sure how to pronounce it unless we know the sentence in which its used. It could mean a breeze or creating potential energy in a clock.
When we are trying to convey concepts – especially new ones – we must be careful which words we choose. Each of us interprets words according to our orientation and experience. Take the word ‘network.’ As a student of social network analysis, I immediately think of social network maps. They depict associations of people united by a common interest. However, someone with a background in infrastructure is more likely to envision circuitry, wires and cables.
The difficulty of communicating across disciplines is one of the reasons I dislike acronyms. So many of them can be mistaken for something else. This confuses meaning.
More importantly, the acronym obscures purpose and potential value. Think about a common situation in the technology industry. We create a program designed to bring about change. We give it a cool name intended to be a rallying point for participants. Then we make it into an acronym and everyone forgets what it stands for and why we are doing it.
Yes, acronyms are a nifty shorthand for busy people. I admit that. I’ve even used WIIFM in previous blogs. But if you are trying to sell people on a concept and engage them in bringing a good idea into reality, then take a tip from clever marketers – use words that enlist, encourage and excite.
Read Complimentary Relevant Research
Predicts 2017: Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services. Practical...
View Relevant Webinars
How to Live Without Mobile Device Management
This webinar addresses the growing trend of users refusing to have enterprise management of their mobile devices due to privacy concerns....
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.