While rolling out our My CI program to all our manufacturing facilities, we learned that acronyms do not translate well. In our Chihuahua, Mexico plant, where I am currently consulting on two kaizen events this week, the use of CI (short for Continuous Improvement) was not well understood.
As a result, we changed the name to “Mi Mejora Continua” which simply drops the acronyms and spells it out as “My Continuous Improvement”. By the way, this employee suggestion program has had a fantastic start with over 50% participation level in just two months. We have expanded our kaizen wall fame twice already and filled all three walls up with implemented ideas from our associates.
As for acronyms, I have written in the past about the problems of acronyms as a barrier to better communication. Please avoid them as much as possible. It is amazing how acronym use has embedded itself deep into our culture. Think text messages. How many things are not completely understood in our daily life because of an acronym?
It is just not text messages. A few years ago, while helping my father-in-law out at his shop one Saturday afternoon, a wedding reception was about to begin at the local VFW Hall, which was located next door. As the wedding party made its way down the street to the VFW Hall, all the horns were blaring and people stopped to cheer them on. My 10-year old nephew, who was helping us out, watched with the rest of us as the cars parked out front and the wedding party made its way into the hall.
My nephew looked up to me and asked what the “V” meant in “VFW”. I told him the V stood for Veterans. He didn’t say anything at first and had a puzzled look on his face. So I went on to explain that VFW stood for Veterans of Foreign Wars and a little about this organization.
Oh, he replied and then added that he always thought the F stood for Funerals and the W stood for Weddings and he just couldn’t figure out what the V stood for.