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Devil’s Dictionary for High Tech - Part 1

The Devil’s dictionary is a book created in the early 20th century by American Ambrose Bierce containing sarcastic, ironic and witty re-definitions of words. e.g

PAINTING, n. The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic.

I’ve recently started creating a set of technology related Devil’s definitions on Twitter.

Here are a number of them, slightly modified as a result of editorial freedom (on my part) as there is no 140 character limit on this blog :-) .

Agile: n. A philosophy of project management where long term planning is replaced by short term thinking.

Bug Scrub: n. A meeting aimed at deciding which product issues can be swept under the carpet without too many people noticing.

CRM system: n. A database full of opinion and incomplete info used as a key source of input for decisions and sales projections.

Competitive Analysis: v. The act of simultaneously underestimating your competitors weaknesses and overestimating your own strengths.

Customer Council: n. A small # of Strategic Accounts whose influence on product futures is proportional to their budgets.

Easter Egg: n. Hidden code invoked by secret means that pays tribute to the awesomeness of the application’s developers

First Customer Ship: n. The phase in which a small set of eager customers, unbeknownst to them, join the QA team.

Heroics: n. The Sales Methodology most often cited by salespeople as their reason for winning big deals.

Lead generation: v. The art of finding people interested enough in a product to give their names, but not interested enough to actually buy it.

Marketing: v. The art of getting others to believe exaggerations about you that you likely don’t believe about  yourself.

Market Sensing: v. The fine art of talking to others to understand how your bosses perceive the market.

Nightly Build: n. The overnight compilation of all new bugs introduced the prior day.

Post-mortem: n. A post-release process improvement meeting whose findings are usually ignored until the subsequent post-mortem.

Product Issues: n. The reason given by the sales team for a lost deal when the competitor’s aggressive price-cutting was not the issue.

Product Roadmap: n. A highly-speculative document of little substance but much value, especially during negotiations with Strategic Accounts.

Product Vision: n. An idealistic future view of a product typically derived while in a state of Utopia Myopia.

Refactoringv. The act of completely rewriting working code to enable hypothetical improvements to be made to it sometime in the future. A favourite task of most software developers.

Release Candidate: n. Like a political candidate, far from perfect, but likely to annoy the least number of people.

Release Date: n. The day before the first installation or licensing bug is reported by a customer.

Requirement: n. A statement of need by a Product Manager, seen as a loose suggestion by Development, and as a firm commitment by Sales.

Research Firms: n. Companies that provide CYA services to buyers via simple diagrams and expensive reports. Also applies to Management Consultants.

SAAS: n. Same Applications Available by Subscription

Sales: v. The art of turning leads into gold.

Sales Club: n. A disincentive program for non-sales employees who make significant contributions but aren’t likewise rewarded with a trip to an exotic location.

Sales Forecast: n. Proof that throwing darts can be used for more than simply deciding which stocks to buy.

Sales Kickoff: n. 3 nights of intense inebriation mixed with 3 days of intense sleep deprivation. Some business transpires.

Sales Methodology: n. Once implemented, allows a company to believe sales people will actually follow a standard process. See Heroics.

Social Media: n. An electronic communication medium aimed at “connecting” people with each other while simultaneously minimizing actual human contact.

Social Networking: v. The opposite of anti-social networking.

Software Architecture: n. The technical underpinning of software systems and the chief roadblock to making major improvements to them. See also: Refactoring.

Strategic Account: n. A customer with lots of money to spend, usually on things that are not core to your business. Often a member of a Customer Council.

Software upgrade: n. A work creation program for the Technical Support team.

Technical Support team: n. The group with the most customer and product exposure but with the least say in customer and product decisions.

Trade Show: n. A gathering of like-minded people all seeking knowledge of the best free giveaways on the show floor.

Undercut by Competitor: n. The most common reason salespeople cite for the failure of Heroics.

Usability: n. The first thing customers experience and virtually the last thing developers think about.

Utopia Myopia: n. The condition of only seeing ideal outcomes and ignoring all other data. The opposite of analysis paralysis.

Waterfall: n. A software development methodology that starts with long term planning along a path this is unclear and which likely ends with a fall over a cliff and a crash on rocks below.

Win/Loss Analysis: n. An unnecessary analysis as Wins are due to sales rep Heroics, and Losses due to Product Issues and being Undercut by Competition.

Feel free to add your own in the comments or let me know which ones you particularly liked or disliked.


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