A cow in Willesden

Public psychotherapy for a veteran auditor

Straight outta Compton

One of my favourite albums, that; NWA’s debut I believe. When I compare it to my Debbie Gibson Electric Youth that I got about the same time, I have to say that it really has aged well by comparison.

I haven’t a clue what they’re singing about some of the time though. Many of the terms they used in the ghettos (oes?) of 1980’s LA didn’t permeate the English classes given by the Jesuits in my part of the world thousands of miles away. I don’t think there was a big interface between those communities.

The slang seems to me to reflect an attitude of with-us-or-against-us, and I can see how these words and phrases would strengthen a feeling of community among groups of people, while reinforcing the separation from the rest of society. People who spoke like them were accepted, and felt welcome. People who didn’t felt alienated (or threatened) and found it hard to communicate with them.

In a similar way, the middle class domain of auditors and audit clients that I frequent these days is a world away from the land of my fathers, and I find little common ground in either experience of life or the speech patterns that distinguish the culture.

For a long time, I assumed it was because these suave business men and women had such deep knowledge in their areas that common language wasn’t sufficient to describe the finer points, that plain English just didn’t have the capacity to reflect what they needed to express. Or as it might be put, the deep-dive strategic considerations of the leadership team require a commensurate level of granularity in the language framework in order to reflect the core competencies and key messages which are impacted.

But I had an epiphany recently when someone tried to sneak the word ’embeddedness’ into a discussion. She claimed it was someone else’s word, but I suspect that she secretly believes it conveys something meaningful. I bet if I checked her personal Word dictionary, I’d find it added, to make sure Microsoft doesn’t flag it as wrongly spelt.

My realisation was that this is nothing more than slang, as impenetrable as that cultivated in that classic album, and for pretty much the same reason – to bond with people who are prepared to drink the Kool-aid, and to exclude those who resist.

Here’s a few more recent ones which I thought might need clarification (or preferably retraction) :

  1. A paradigm shift is probably not the right phrase for what you are describing. It is impossible to correct you because you don’t seem to have any other information to give me. At a guess, I would say the phrase you need is “someone changed their mind”, or possibly “we’re not sure what’s happening so we’re going to have a reorganisation to buy us some more time”
  2. It is not necessary to ignore the present and past in order to be ‘going forward‘ – no matter how often you use that phrase, there is still merit in examining why you mucked things up this time around. Admitting you have a problem is the first step
  3. Unless you are in touch with dead people, “channel” is not a word you want to use as a verb. Well, maybe if you work in agricultural irrigation
  4. Real people don’t have a morbid fear that they might ‘boil the ocean‘ to the point where it causes project scopes to be dramatically cut, to the point of hardly delivering anything at all. The opposite of what you are trying to convey is called ‘doing it properly’ or sometimes ‘finishing the job.’ In the real world, people consider these good things, not to be avoided.
  5. Socialisation can not be done with an email and a Powerpoint presentation. It requires a mandate from the masses a general recognition of the inequality of the status quo, a strong union movement, a compelling ideological argument, the wherewithal to arm and direct the workers to overthrow the capital owners and their militia, and most likely vast loss of life. The phrase you are looking for is “telling people about it” which is subtly different

That’s about it from me for a while, not my clearest thinking or writing, but wanted to get it out before I go on holiday for the rest of the month (September) Probably nothing going on here until October. Congrats to the man from the hazel gap, the source of the Cow’s origins, on his latest contribution to the world. And thanks everyone for getting me to 2,000 hits, twice as many as I hoped for when I started back in January. And thanks to all the people who scored goals against Arsenal at the weekend. 8-2, what a humiliation. Warms my heart and takes all the sting out of being in 20th spot.

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3 responses to “Straight outta Compton

  1. ITauditSecurity August 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    This holiday crap is really getting to me, especially since I’m commenting AGAIN when you’re on holiday. While the subject irritates me, I hope you had fun.

    “Boil the ocean” made me LOL, Not bad for dashing off something quick. Thanks.

    • A Cow in Willesden September 1, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks IAS, its mainly for you that I emphasised the length of the holiday too. I’m going to love it. Not bringing my laptop, not answering the phone. Over a month off.
      That boil the ocean phrase really gets me. First time I heard it I really liked it, a nice simple way to point out scope creep and the importance of delivering some benefits early on in a program of work. But its also a convenient cop-out when people don’t feel like doing things right, and don’t feel like accepting responsibility for anything except the immediate and proximate symptoms. I should really blame the people, not the phrase.
      Anyway, I’ll be checking your blog while I’m away, keep it up. The guy who sits next to me liked your last one, but he didn’t “like” it because he’s not a blogger so not signed in.

  2. The Man of the Hazel Gap September 12, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Many thanks ACIW – All is well and good with the queen, and we’re still loving the rat.

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