Pire

I write my subordinates a letter/newsletter every week. This week’s theme:

The French word “pire” means “worst.” It is pronounced like “pyrr” and sounds very much linked to “pyrrhic victory.”

Our acting-Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Eyres, announced that OP HONOUR has “culminated.” “Culmination” means the “highest point of development,” and its root word is Latin’s “culmen,” or “crown.” This means “top,” or insinuates rising towards a peak. This, in some rude way, is rather appropriate, since the overall exercise sounds like a failed or aborted erection. When Lieutenant-Colonel Eleanor Taylor was tasked with work related to OP HONOUR, she had campaigned for the name to be dropped. Even before it became synonymous with “slow progress,” it became ridiculed with the nickname “HOP ON HER.” Project Managers, in collaboration with their Business Analysts, have a responsibility of constant reality checks in order to provide that timely advice to decision-makers and stakeholders on why a company/organization should maintain course, pivot or drop tools on a specific course of action. Lieutenant-General Eyres’ decision is long overdue. He is making the right decision.

Two years ago, Heinz’s marketing failed. Just like graphic artists are taught in college to find ways to twist and ridicule draft logos and posters (what G2s do to G3s/G5s during wargaming), the same should be done about every aspect of a new product or ongoing operations. Not sure why people would go out of their way to spend money on a premixed version of mayonnaise and ketchup when this can be easily done on a picnic table, but it gets to be a very expensive venture, in addition to finding the food colouring that generates memories of diarrhea, to find out after-all-the-marketing-money-has-been-spent that “mayochup” in a language indigenous to North America (Cree), translates to “sht face.” It is irresponsible to spend millions on “make-up,” when the proper thing to do is have the CEO understand that their baby is ugly or losing relevance (think of Kodak’s refusal to acknowledge the birth of digital photography).

Just like you would not tell your daughters to keep looking on the bright side and keep forgiving that charlatan boyfriend who is a cheating misogynist, we are supposed to raise our daughters and sons to recognize and appreciate their own value, thus not accepting mistreatment, while showing them how to empathize and recognize that same dignity in others. As Leaders, we demonstrate to our subordinates how to protect and stand up for others because there is nothing noble about bullying/harassment. That our acting-Chief of the Defence Staff is ending what many hoped was THE solution, is just the business manager stating reality that Mayochup and New Coke are a failure, and we have to go back to properly assess what it is that is valued, and using what is available to find more efficient ways to achieve what is desired. Failures are not a bad thing if we embrace them and learn from them. We should not fear failure because that would prevent us from ever taking calculated risks… we learned how to walk by overcoming failures.

We are supposed to be Leaders. We are supposed to be developing Leaders. Contributing to a pyrrhic victory not only makes us losers, it negatively affects those we draw into the quicksand.

This does not mean that fighting for gender equality is a lost cause or that racial movements like #BLACKLIVES MATTER or #STOPANTIASIANHATE are bridges too far. It means we have to keep finding better ways to get where we need to go, and that the journey might succeed better when it becomes everyone’s journey, versus jagged trails taken in isolation. E Tenebris Lux.

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