Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Age of the Acronym (TAOTA)

My life is full of acronyms. Whether it’s my DOT (Do One Thing) sustainability philosophy, my view that we live in a world that is deeply VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) or the RASCI management system we use at Saatchi & Saatchi (Responsible, Accountable, Supportive, Consulted, Informed).

More Intelligent Life, the Economist’s superb culture quarterly, recently published a shrewd examination of the role that acronyms play in the English-speaking world. It’s one of those articles (my personal favorite kind, in fact) that takes as its subject some unexamined part of our everyday lives.

Believe it or not, I’ve never thought all that much about acronyms, their significance and their history, before reading this piece. It’s true that they can be, at turns, efficient (RSVP) and annoying (OMG! BTW! NBD!). But, for me at least, they’re simply a useful tool for communicating a complex idea – or set of ideas – in a way that people will remember.