Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Digital Doodling, Aardvaarks and Bingo

I once fined myself a box of Maltesers for using the word 'deliver' instead of 'teach' in a training session I teaching. So you'll gather I'm not a great believer in jargon. Precise technical vocabulary that it would be clumsy to replace is fine. What I hate is a flow of verbiage sprinkled with buzzwords, whose inclusion seems to be to add a spurious veracity to the speech but serve only to obfusticate . A few years ago a friend told me about boardroom bingo whose aim was for players to collect five buzzwords in a row from speakers around the table. 
My colleague, David, and I have been indulging in such a practice in a desultory way this term.  I'm not a great admirer of acronyms either - especially those derived from management-speak. Terms like SMART. This is an acronym first recorded over 30 years ago, probably long forgotten in the ever-changing world of management but still persisting with an air of apparent novelty in the dusty world of education meetings. 
Wikipedia says:
'There is no clear consensus about what the five or seven keywords mean, or even what they are in any given situation'.
It continues with this table
LetterMajor TermMinor Terms
SSpecificSignificant, Stretching, Simple
MMeaningful, Motivational, Manageable, Measurable
AAttainableAppropriate, Achievable, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Adjustable, Ambitious, Aligned, Aspirational, Acceptable, Action-focused
RRelevantResult-Based, Results-oriented, Resourced, Resonant, Realistic
TTimelyTime-oriented, Time framed, Timed, Time-based, Timeboxed, Time-bound, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Time limited, Trackable, Tangible
Unfortunately, some colleagues of ours do not appear to have read this entry and indulged in a friendly but mildly hilarious discussion of the meaning of the A and resolved the problem by suggesting that both were right: thus SMAART targets. From this solution arose my suggestion that perhaps this was a Dutch version of the acronym or, possibly, South African. I'm not quite sure about the logic that led from there to the suggestion that our department should have our very own acronym - but Aardvaark aims were mooted and adopted. Since then, when meetings have grown tiresome, suggested solutions have been put about. 
Now it happened that at our last meeting I had my laptop in use and started to idly play around with our departmental acronym. Reaching a more satisfactory conclusion than previously, I searched for an aardvaark to complete the poster, and, to celebrate David's use of the word 'immersion' in a summing-up he gave, I included an immersion heater to create the world's first aardcorn. I'm planning to print it out and put it in our toilet. And yes, if senior management are reading this, I was listening to every (other) word.
Driving home I remembered the superbly dry James Branch Cabell quote I included at the foot of the poster and was glad to salute his memory. 
I wonder if he went to lots of meetings?