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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

Being 'HIP' Isn’t Always Necessary


Robert Stevenson Blog - Picture of a book, on the left side is says old words, on the right it says new words, and underneath it says the right words.

Several years ago, I received a call from my agent telling me I had lost a speaking engagement to another speaker because of a word I used in my video demo tape. In the opinion of the client’s meeting planner, the word I had spoken was an “out dated” term. I guess by using this supposedly out-of-date word, I wasn’t on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest "fad" in management.


The term I used was "paradigm." The word does have a little age on it. Paradigm first appeared in English in the 15th century, coming from the late Latin word paradīgma, and from the Greek word paradeigma; meaning "an example or pattern," and it still bears this meaning today. Since the 1960s, paradigm has also been used in science to refer to a theoretical framework, as when Nobel Laureate David Baltimore cited the work of two colleagues stating they had "really established a new paradigm for our understanding of the causation of cancer."


But, I shouldn’t feel bad, because I recently read an article in a prominent business magazine stating, “they were fed up with the word Synergize.” They further stated:

“This word has infiltrated nearly every cube and conference room in the country. Blame Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. (Habit No. 6 is Synergize.) Of this habit, Covey writes: ’To put it simply, synergy means two heads are better than one.’ The same advice was preached several decades earlier on the hit show Sesame Street. Big Bird called it ‘cooperation.’”

To me, it seemed the author was trying to make fun of Mr. Covey. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People sold 25 million copies and was published in over 40 languages … so, SYNERGIZE is okay with me.


The article went on to say we need to quit using the words Empower, Core Competency, Move the Needle, Corporate Values, Scalable, Best Practice, Solution and Drill Down. They didn’t offer what we should replace these words with … just don’t use them. Maybe if I drilled down further into the core competency of the author of the article I would find that they seldom offer scalable solutions or best practices for running a company; their article did however, help to empower me to write this article.


In our quest to stay up with the latest and greatest “management fads,” I feel we are losing sight of some really important concepts, values, and principles in making a company successful. The latest "management fad" isn't going to make your company successful. Old words like service, trust, respect, loyalty, diligence, fairness, and integrity should never be overlooked.


This morning I read in Forbes Magazine… “The next time you feel the need to reach out, shift a paradigm or leverage a best practice, by all means do it.” Forbes used that outdated word (paradigm) too, so I’m feeling better about my choice of words.


This meeting planner would probably have said of Plato, Socrates, Confucius, "Yeah they're good, but what have they written lately."  In between the business transitions from Total Quality Management to Business Process Reengineering (BPR), to Six Sigma to Lean Sigma, don't lose sight of some “good ole” out dated words. Service, trust, respect, loyalty, diligence, fairness, and integrity have served me well in my career even though I am still trying to break away from old paradigms which could be holding me back. Oops! I said it again.

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