I caught an interesting article about the twelve most dangerous words in business. I thought, twelve. That’s it? Then I realized how they apply to learning and the pain they can cause.
I won’t hold back the suspense
Defined in business to dial down a big request. “Could you just complete this (2-hour) course by Monday? This is followed by a set of specs that led Columbus astray. When you try to get clarity, the requestor says that’s the only information I have — Hey, thanks. We know in learning building the back-story – that is the actual objectives, resources, assignments, deadlines, critical path, and such are ridiculously compressed. More often than we’d like to admit the resulting course has two-fold results: It is used, maybe, if it actually answers a need for which you thought it was made but never fully understood (shooting in the dark syndrome) or if it is delivered, the results are never exposed to any metric for measurement.
If you hear ‘but’ everything said prior is meaningless because everything said after is what counts. BTW, mother’s are great at this. (At least mine) Vut brigns with it a criticism, an excuse, or camouflage for someone to hide behind. This is deadly in learning simply because it usually comes after an enormous amount of time and effort has already been expended. Prepare to reboot.
A modifier in ninja black that pretends to help by putting a stake in the ground – a starting point. Seems innocent enough until it begins to move, uprooted by some other higher ranking influencer: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this?’ Or, ‘I know we started from here – let’s try starting from here instead.’ This is a sneaky one.
Actually, this makes three appearances on our list. As a negotiating strategy, your boss says he might be able to help you if…Next, it suggests you will have to compromise something to achieve your goals – see, it’s a snarky tradeoff based on power. Of course, the last utilitarian application is post project when blame is being distributed ‘You know we might have done this if (Insert name of person, conditions, restrictions, etc.) might have (a two-for-one zinger) been somehow different.
Another modifier designed to relieve the speaker from responsibility by diminishing the scope or effort you’ll need to put out there. I love this when it shows up after storyboards are going to production and ‘only one minor change’ would really be helpful. GRRRR.
And the last for this morning…
6. Important (and Urgent)
Stephen Covey separates these two as completely different elements. For our purposes, it inflates how critical a project is and – by fiat – how vital your role will be. Further it suggests this is a high profile assignment being viewed from up on high. So, you had better give it your very best effort. As if…