October 2012
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Month October 2012

Good usage, bad usage, and usage

In another life, I was an English literature major, which means I can drive family and friends nuts with my attention to language. Waiting for a client the other day, I was browsing through a waiting room copy of Life’s Little Instruction Book [1991] and was struck by instruction #459: “Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.” It took me back to  Abracadabra‘s theme  and to a much more distant memory: a

Abracadabra

When Bob took over as head of a large business unit in his organization, he inherited a chief operations officer, Mary Jo. Initially, he was reluctant to keep her. The unit had financial problems, poor morale, a toxic culture, and a lot of people blaming Mary Jo for the problems, so he was watchful. But he realized quickly that she was very good at her job, and decided to hold off taking any action.

Fast forward a couple of years. Bob is moving his unit forward. He’s a systems