Martha: What did you do?
The Doctor: I named her. The power of a name. That’s old magic.
— Doctor Who, “The Shakespeare Code”

I like to put names to things, especially problems. I’ve found that by naming something, particularly those things that are not immediately intuitive, the individuals who pick up the name have a much easier time understanding and tackling the issue, idea or problem that the name represents.

This is one reason why I like to write about anti-practices, like Defensive Scrum, Schedule Chicken and Management by PowerPoint. Once there is a commonly-understood (or at least catchy and intuitive) name for an anti-practice it becomes much easier to dispell that anti-practice.

Naming an anti-practice does not dissolve it into a puff of foul black smoke. Naming an anti-practice can, however, clearly mark where the positive patterns and behaviors can be found and where the negative patterns and behaviors should be left.

We often repeat the names of anti-practices in our daily work lives, either to identify current bad behaviors or to warn against future misconduct. People sometimes ask, specifically, what an anti-practice name means, and we get an opportunity to describe the negative behaviors the name is meant to depict and the repercussions of those behaviors.

Slowly, we can build individual and collective support against negative behaviors and in favor of positive patterns. All because we chose to give something a name.

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