ODD Lexicon

Ross Mayfield is running a session at the Office 2.0 Unconference tomorrow morning. It’s called Catalytics, How to be an Agent of Change in a Large Organization. Ross has asked attendees to read Strategy Creation in Turbulent Times. I’m still digesting the paper, but was immediately drawn to the lexicon developed by AT&T’s Opportunity Discovery Department (ODD). It’s familiar territory to anyone that’s experienced large organizational behavior.


Lexicon of ODDisms
canary n. a person who detects signs of dangerous strategy/behavior; a person who tests a situation for the safe entry of followers

confusopoly n. a version of “management by regulated incompetence”; the modus operandi of telco incumbents (aka clusterfuck)

data bomb n. a statistic with disturbing implications

dead squirrel n. a strategy that has encountered the arrival of a freight train

empty suits n. pl. up-and-coming executives who need ideas to advance their careers (I doubt they coined the phrase)

freight trains n. a trend that is going to flatten a company unless the company changes its strategy (see immutable trend)

GNOST abbrev. Grass-Roots Network of Strategic Thinkers; an informal community of support

humbitious adj. a state that combines the humility to recognize that one does not know everything with the ambition to be bold in fulfillment of one’s mission

ignorance map n. a map that charts the critical information of which a company is ignorant

jester n. a person who employs humor and self-ridicule to force executives to acknowledge difficult strategic issues

learning journey n. a journey of discovery to an unfamiliar area or context
magic feathers n pl. implicitly and intentionally indefinable concepts that companies believe are necessary for success, e.g. middleware, platform [From Disney’s “Dumbo and the Magic Feather” in which Dumbo believes that he needs a magic feather to fly, whereas he already has all that he needs to fly—namely, his big ears]. Offering a “magic feather” as a solution stops all useful strategic discussion.

naked emperors n. pl. misguided executives with delicate egos whom no one is willing to confront

ODD abbrev. Opportunity Discovery Department; Opportunity Deficit Disorder; Organized Despair and Disillusionment

ODDventure n. see learning journey reboot camp n. a learning journey that is designed to “chock and fix” unsuspecting executives stink tank n. a place such as ODD where dangerous, combustible ideas are generated.

Strategic infection point n. a suitable point in an organizational process at which one can introduce a new strategic perspective

strategic rubber chicken n. an indigestible attempt at strategy; usually served to lower level employees by upper management

stratlets n. pl. hallway or elevator strategies; small pieces of strategy with the potential to grow into something larger

substitute brain n. an external consultant

Trojan hearse n. a vehicle used to engineer the departure of a naked emperor

Unamailer n. a disgruntled knowledge worker who breaks the corporate code of silence concerning mismanagement and incompetence


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