A few days ago Rory wrote a post entitled Ten Minutes of Sincerity - Enthusiasthma, in which he argues that there is such a thing as too much passion.

Which got me thinking about one of my pet peeves. What do following words all have in common:

  • Passion
  • Innovation
  • Synergy
  • Agility

They're what I call "Mom and Apple Pie" words, for two reasons.

First, they all have a positive connotation. Who wouldn't want to be more agile, more innovative? Who is going to argue against having a more synergistic approach? Shouldn't everybody have passion?

Combine that with the fact that these words are used in a content-free environment, and you get a nice-sounding platitude that means nothing, but makes it sound like you are for changing things.

You don't think we should have more apple pie? What's wrong with you? Why do you hate your mother?

People who want to make an organization more agile don't say, "We're going to improve agility". They say, "we're going to get rid of <x>, we're going to change <y>, we're going to release every <x> months".

People who want to improve synergy say, "Our users are trying to do <x>, and it's way too hard. What do I need to do to help you fix this?"

With those sorts of people, you can have rational discussions about the benefits and disadvantages of changes.

But don't talk to me about being more agile or innovative without specifics.

BTW, I'm all for Mom, but I prefer Apple-blueberry, because I like the extra tartness...