Jargon du jour

Someone I met today said something absolutely brilliant

 

We were talking about a new commercial venture. I asked him about his team and the profile of the people he had identified to come and join the business.

When describing one of his colleagues – someone who has been in the business for over 20 years – he referred to him as a “someone with a huge amount of negative know-how”

 

What’s negative know-how might you ask?

 

Well, he explained, it is someone who is a subject matter expert on failure.

Someone with negative know-how is someone who knows what doesn’t work. A subject matter expert who specialises in mistakes, pitfalls and unhappy endings.

 

It was probably one of those well-rehearsed statements – the kind of phrase that worked well once and so people tend to recycle it again and again

(why waste the opportunity of looking smart in front of a new audience with a tried and tested witty remark…).

 

Nevertheless it was pure genius.

 

One of the most boring things about corporate life is predictability

 

Most of the people you’ll come across tend to be smart, and they think they have the answer to everything. In my experience, 99% of the people you meet in the office – especially the ones at the top – mostly talk about successes, how they turned a business’ performance around or were instrumental in closing the deal of the year. It’s all about the success stories.

 

Now coming across someone who specialises in epic failures and ‘the art of knowing what doesn’t work’ – that’s different, and kind of cool

 

Because, when you read between the self-deprecating lines, the message is that such a person has so much experience (and captivating war stories) that they are probably the ones you want to go to for advice on how to actually make sure something works.

So I’ve decided to become an adept of negative know-how. It sounds a bit like the dark side of the force, but then Jedis are probably the boring kind too.

Besides, it is scientifically proven that people are more interested in disasters and horror stories than inspirational quotes about a company’s “commitment to sustainability and doing the right thing for their stakeholders and customers” (yawn).

Bring on the war stories, and let’s talk business.

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