Thursday, January 22, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Acronyms and Jess O. Gregory

I discovered a fun page by accident the other day,

I have no idea how I stumbled - maybe "fat fingered" - across the site, but it made me feel good.

The site is called The Free Dictionary by Farlex and the part I found most amusing was the acronyms section (

In addition to the acronyms collection, there also are tabs for

  • Dictionary/Thesaurus
  • Medical dictionary
  • Legal dictionary
  • Financial dictionary
  • Encyclopedia
  • Wikipedia encyclopedia

Since I railJOG about alphabet soup from time to time, I thought I'd look up some of my favorites.

BCM presented me with 65 items, including Business Continuity Management

BCP was a bit better; of the 79 items, there were three "relevant" hits:
   Business Contingency Plan
   Business Continuity Plan
   and Business Continuity Planning

ERM, one of my favorites, gave me a list of 45 options, including Enterprise Risk Management

COOP only showed 18 entries, but it did include Continuation of Operations; note the "P" as part of oPerations, not "Planning."

RPO had a list of 33 options, including Recovery Point Objective with the parenthetical note (disaster recovery) after the entry.

RTO had even more entries than RPO, besting it with a total of 47. The RTO list included Recovery Time Objective with the same parenthetical note (disaster recovery) after the entry.

Many years ago, as a young reporter (no, Gutenberg was not my typesetter) I learned to "spell it out" on first reference. As a technical writer, I added to that admonishment: "and on each chapter's first reference."

I don't like acronyms.

I don't like buzz words.

I don't like it when people use trade jargon when talking to someone - me - who is in a different trade.

Since I don't like it, it seems the least I can do for my clients is to avoid words, terms, and acronyms they don't comprehend at once.

It has been my experience that most have little or no conception of what Enterprise Risk Management and Business Continuity are all about.

There are a few of us "wimps" who go to our doctor and when we leave still don't know what ails us simply because the physician spoke in Doctor Speak and we were too awed to ask the practitioner what the words meant "in plain English" (or whatever our language).

I'm not sure if it was in Pygmalion or only in the My Fair Lady adaptation, but I vividly recall Professor 'enry 'iggins' complaint: "Why can't the English learn to speak ... the language." My question is equally simple: Why can't professionals speak a common language?

I am not a doctor and I don't play one on tv.

Nor am I a lawyer, or realtor, or Info Tech guru, or any of a great number of other professions or trades.

As Popeye the Sailor was wont to exclaim, "I am what I am" - a person with a reasonable general vocabulary who has enough common sense and courtesy to talk to people who know little or nothing about what I do in terms they can comprehend and with which they are comfortable.

JOG - The third definition, in honor of "Third Definition" Jess Gregory, a former honest journalist-turned-flack. Back to where you were

John Glenn, MBCI, SRP
Enterprise Risk Management/Business Continuity
Planner @

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