I haven’t learned much over the years. But one thing I have learned is, we have far too many acronyms. It started with government agencies (GOV), and it has invaded corporate (CORP) headquarters (HQ). Like an invasive species, it’s threatening to choke off innovation.
Growing up in Washington, D.C., it’s part of my lexicon. There’s DC, DOD, DOT and DOJ. Don’t confuse the FCC with the FEC or the FAA and FDA. We all know the CIA, NIH and EPA. In the corporate world, we tremble when we hear SEC, IRS or FTC. The three-letter acronyms have a prestige and status over the four- or five-letter ones. The longer acronym usually salutes the shorter one – NHTSA to DOT or DARPA to DOD.
Many sports organizations are known only by their acronym. There’s, of course, the NFL and the NBA. We all know what they stand for. For sports, it seems to work. You need a logo that can be slapped on cars, helmets, sleeves and a thousand other things. But what about ESPN or NASCAR? NASCAR is pretty easy. It means National Stock Car Racing Association. But ESPN? Does anybody know that it’s Entertainment and Sports Programming Network? That’s what it is – ESPN. Very good branding, though.
Marriott and many other companies are guilty of using these impersonal initials up and down every hallway and in every meeting. At our recent executive leadership meeting, I pulled out a list. See if you can guess what they mean. There’ll be a quiz on this later. I don’t have the answers myself.
MICE – What the heck are MICE? Are they running around the building? I hope not.
DAM, NAM, EMC, COE, BME, CGC, SRM, GOS, COS, CPC, CRM, MNC, HLN, PTO, MBO, LPP, GSS. And they go on and on.
Come on, you guys. As I told my kids when they’d misbehave on a long car trip, “Enough is enough!” I’ll leave you with my favorite acronym: STML – short-term memory loss. Let’s forget these useless acronyms. Chances are we already have. We don’t understand them.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.
What's your favorite (or unfavorite) corporate or government acronym?