What’s in a name?

A few posts ago I mentioned some rules I had devised in “Rule No. 25 – Why work at getting it right when you can let things drift and have a really big bust up?”. I was reminded of another of these Rules when I heard a suggestion that the Respite Castle would be renamed the Short Breaks Castle. This may be a good move but I wrote of some thoughts on changing names for the wrong reason many moons ago. If you are a little unsure of the perception of your position or you want to confuse everyone’s view of reality – change your name. Hence Rule No 4 – If you want a smokescreen change your name.

The IT Manager is getting bad press so he becomes the Chief Information Officer which immediately elevates him (or her) to a perceived position alongside the CEO (Managing Director) CFO (Finance Director) And CTO (Technical Director). This will last for a while until underperformance sets in and he becomes a CLIO (Chief Lack of Information Officer).

You have a proud history going back to the days of the penny black but are facing new challenges and increased competition so you change your name to Consignia. You realize that it’s been a mistake and so return to being the Post Office while the branding advisors smile all the way to the bank.

Your department has an image of being staffed by old buffers smoking pipes in tweed jackets so you change from Personnel to HR. Eventually someone realizes that HR means Human Resources not Human Remains.

Where name changes work best they are the consequence of events rather than being driven by perception avoidance. For example Cassius Clay’s change to Mohamed Ali or Cat Stevens’ change to Yusuf Islam. However in the latter case it upset the US authorities and so they wouldn’t let him in to the country once their then (2001) President had declared a war on tourism (or was it terrorism).

Of course, these days the IT manager would not be renamed, he (or she) would be outsourced. I thought I should point out that it was in 2004 that Yusuf Islam was refused entry in case you thought that it was refused by Big Chief Passing Wind. Some changes, of course, are merely a matter of catching up with reality and I think that the Respite Castle change is an attempt to better reflect the service offered.

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One thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. Reminds me of my profession. 1832 we were ‘Inspectors of Nuisances’, we became Sanitary Inspectors (good for music hall comedy), then ‘Public Health Inspectors’ – surprising how often the l was omitted but famous in Fawlty Towers and finally Environmental Health Officers which nobody except us understood. Personally I think our 1832 title was best, it said what we did and still do…….

    Liked by 1 person

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