Words are Important
The business world seems to generate more jargon and buzzwords than goods and services these days. Words are being misused and abused. This is a disaster because words are important. When words can be made to mean anything, they mean nothing. Without precise meaning, we can’t form rational thought and the world is lost. So, in the interest of saving the world, I humbly present my fifth installment of this series on words:
What it means
This is a metaphor for any person with enough clout to ignore all rules, restrictions and conventions.
Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?
Wherever it wants.
How it’s used
Recently, the 800-pound gorilla metaphor has been blended with “the elephant in the room” to become “the 800-pound gorilla in the room”. The elephant in the room is the big obvious problem that everyone is ignoring. Perhaps it’s being ignored because it’s a difficult problem to solve, or it would be politically indelicate to address, or would require a radical change in approach to deal with it. In those cases it’s often more convenient for people to simply look the other way and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
My father had big, loud, hacking coughs from smoking for years right up until the day he died from lung cancer. Nobody ever really talked about that in my house.
The implication of cross-breeding the elephant with the 800-lb gorilla is that there nothing that can be done about powerful people or entities that throw their weight around. They are inevitable, and so it’s probably easier to try to get on with life as if they don’t exist. I blame this usage mostly on the moronic advertising team for AXA Equitable.
Why it’s important
We should be able to distinguish between large problems caused by opportunistic bullies and large problems that are merely uncomfortable or difficult to deal with. For example, in dealing with the Gulf oil spill, BP’s proposed solutions seem to be focused on maintaining the viability of the well rather than on quickly stopping the flow of oil. Though they possess enormous wealth, they certainly seem to be taking their sweet time, pursuing fixes in serial, rather than in parallel, always trying the least costly and drastic first instead of moving immediately to the most promising methods. We’re all on their timetable.
How does an 800-pound gorilla clean up an oil spil?
However it wants.
Why is President Obama taking so long to figure out “whose ass to kick”? That, my friends, is the elephant in the room.
Image by Raul654