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The Official Baldrige Blog

Noah Webster Needn't Worry

Dictionary showing the word 'Leadership' and the definition highlighted.
Credit: Castleski/Shutterstock

In a 2016 article in The Guardian, there is a discussion of new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Soon after reading that, I took advantage of the opportunity in a Blogrige post to propose some new words for a leadership/management lexicon.

As luck would have it, I recently came across a 2021 article about 455 new words added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Much has changed in recent years, so I felt it necessary to add another ten words to my lexicon. If Merriam-Webster can now define amirite to mean "Am I right?" and dad bod can be defined as "a typical, slightly overweight father," shouldn't I also add words to my lexicon?

Ten New Words

So with a great sense of pride and my tongue in my cheek, I hereby propose ten new words (in alphabetical order, of course) for your careful consideration:

  1. combustication
    the inflammatory communication that results when words are not well chosen in a management or leadership message to employees. This type of communication can also occur when communications are too infrequent or are contradictory. Combustication is a greater problem when people do not interact face-to-face for lengthy periods of time and/or during times of heightened overall anxiety.
  2. coronoperation
    the act of sustaining operations during a time of great disruption. This is particularly significant when employee, customer, and supply network interactions are knocked off-kilter.
  3. coronovation
    using a crisis as an opportunity to innovate and gain a sustainable benefit or advantage
  4. ethilacktion
    behavior that demonstrates that organizational ethical standards are exemplary on paper only, with senior leaders demonstrating lower standards in their actions
  5. hybridomen blues
    a lack of workforce commitment and engagement caused by a hybrid work environment without a culture that is carefully crafted to be inclusive of remote and on-site contributors (employees and volunteers)
  6. manglement
    when senior leaders, middle managers, and line managers do not operate in concert. This situation in exacerbated in times when face-to-face communication is difficult or not possible.
  7. repeputation
    the reputation your organization establishes through use of  consistent, repeatable processes that deliver quality goods and services. A negative repeputation results from inconsistent processes that deliver an inconsistent quality of goods and services. A positive repeputation results from systematic processes that result in high-quality goods and services that delight customers.
  8. restitution (not Noah's definition)
    a day of vacation and rest declared by an organization's leaders after a period of intense stress and work
  9. talentention
    an organizational leadership system and culture that result in the hiring, engagement, and retention of a diverse and inclusive workforce committed to the organization's mission and vision
  10. trendenial
    giving excuses when negative trends in key metrics are ignored or explained away, rather than performing root cause analysis and developing improvement goals and actions

Do Me One Favor

As with my prior set of new words, before you dismiss this blog post as just another poor attempt at humor, do me one favor: Treat these ten words as a simple organizational self-assessment tool—as some important Baldrige concepts reduced to a ten-word instrument for examining your organization.

  • How many of the words characterize role-model practices in your organization?
  • How many of the words indicate opportunities for improvement in your organization?
  • Do these words help you see organizational successes you should build on?
  • Could some action planning come out of your self-assessment using these words?

Please let me know!

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About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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