Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Languages

Illustration by Elizabeth Kuhnke
In high school, I studied Latin and French, and thankfully only had to converse in one. At university, history and political science studies introduced me to the “–isms” .

Drinks over Marxism, socialism, and fascism evolved to late nights discussions of racism, sexism and politicism. I’ve worked in a hospital with “oscopies” and “itis’s”, in education with various pedagogies, and in a museum where I needed a dictionary with me constantly to understand curatorial discussions. Extensive travel for work and pleasure exposed me to languages and cultures across the globe, and further developed my interested ear. Past professional roles included development of industry analyses: reviewing annual reports, shareholder letters and financial highlights using GAAP, and running a small nonprofit that trained service animals which challenged me to speak advanced “dog”. Needless to say, I have learned to listen closely in order to survive.

Rejoining the world of corporate services in the SF Bay Area/Silicon Valley recently, has introduced me to another new language. When I first heard “freemium” (business model by which a proprietary product or service - typically digital offering such as software, media, games or web services - is provided free of charge, but money premium is charged for advanced features, function, or virtual goods) married to “gateway drug” (“use our free cool thing, get hooked, and migrate to our fee based app"), I wondered if perhaps they were flashbacks to the late ‘60’s in California. When I heard that Dropbox (a free service that lets you take your photos, documents, and videos everywhere with you) had the best “virality” model (users forward your product to friends and work colleagues, growing your market and simultaneously reducing need for sales/marketing investment), my keen listening skills picked up the viral vs. virile, which saved me from embarrassing myself.

I must admit I was stumped however, when I heard “dogfooding.” In the context of many dogs, I think one might say dog feeding…but in a room full of technology start up entrepreneurs, I struggled for definition. “Yes” they all agreed enthusiastically, “you have to dog food the process” (term refers to eating your own: use your own product, experience all the bugs and benefits). When I figured out what they were actually talking about, I was reminded of TQM and Six Sigma from days gone by. That language was also challenging to the uninitiated, but I bet Deming and Juran would be thrilled with the progress.

Now that I’ve been listening for a few months, “horizontal connectivity” where “stairscapes” enhance “porosity” makes perfect sense to me.


About the Author:
Carolyn Clark Beedle, Architectural Products Specialist, is our Corporate Creative. She is constantly exploring, researching, and conquering. Carolyn has held numerous leadership roles within the industry as well as a number of non-profit organizations. In addition to her knowledge of the workplace, Carolyn holds both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from the University of San Diego. Not to mention, she truly is the perfect dinner guest. To contact CCB, email her at carolyn_clarkbeedle@sidemark.com

1 comment:

  1. Love Dog-Fooding and have incorporated it into my lexicon.