I’ve been thinking lately about a startup that I’d like to ramp up working on over the course of the next few months. Now, I’ll tell you a secret. I talk to myself. Like, a lot. Like, all the time. I conduct, in some cases, full blown interviews with myself. I find it a good way to work out the pros and cons of a project because it allows me to play good cop/bad cop and work through a lot of things on my own. Today, I was conducting an “interview” about how I saw this particular startup improving the world when I used the word “agile” and instantly walked out of the interview (with myself).
I worked for a long time as a manager and trainer at a call center. Firstly, I actually enjoyed my job. I made lifelong friends, was able to work on a lot of management and educational theories that I still use today, and generally had an all around good time. But there is one part of my life as a call center employee that I do not miss, will never miss, and will never repeat in my own life. Buzz Words.

Buzz Words. It reminds me of when you’re trying to sleep in your tent and you realize that there’s a mosquito in there with you. It reminds me of when you’re driving on a long road trip and you realize that somewhere, in some nook or cranny of the car, there is a fly. Buzz Words are not a real thing. They’re not even a part of a real thing. They’re a shadow, a whisper, a breeze.

Culture. “We want to change our office’s culture.” “We want to improve our office’s culture.” “ We want our employees to feel comfortable with the culture of our business.” Culture is a buzz word. You don’t change your business’ “culture”, you just work hard and reward employees.

Paradigm. “We want to create a paradigm shift in the way we do business.” So, things aren’t going well, eh? Paradigm is a really beautiful word and if companies were actually interested in a paradigm shift, it would be fantastic. But generally, they’re not. They want to shift YOUR paradigm. They want their employees to think differently about their business while they continue business as usual. But that’s not how a paradigm shift works. You don’t SAY you’re going to create a paradigm shift. You just start improving on the things that you know need to change. You do that and you’ll find that you’ve “shifted your paradigm” without choosing to create a “paradigm shift”.

Agile. I wanted my new start up to be “agile.” I wanted it to shift “organically” and “on the fly”. I wanted my startup to be “agile” because I wanted it to be a dynamic startup without any external limitations on its growth or progress. But you don’t need to use the word “agile”, you need to BE agile. And that’s the point of buzz words.

Don’t say you want to change your offices’ culture, just change your offices’ culture. Don’t say you want to create a paradigm shift at your business, just change directions, shift gears and get moving. Don’t say you want to be agile. The very process of saying you want to be agile takes time and effort that directly contradicts your planned agility. So what am I saying? Don’t say things.

DO things.

Do them.



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