It's All in the Name

Published: Jun 12 , 2014
Author: Alan Smith

Researchers into fatalities caused by storms have made an interesting and rather odd finding.

For as long as people have been tracking and reporting hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones, they’ve been struggling to find ways to identify them. Until well into the 20th century, newspapers and forecasters in the United States devised names for storms that referenced their time period, geographic location or intensity; hence, the Great Hurricane of 1722, the Galveston Storm of 1900, the Labour Day Hurricane of 1935 and the Big Blow of 1913.

During World War II, U.S. Air Force and Navy meteorologists plotting storms over the Pacific needed a better way to denote hurricanes while analysing weather maps. Many began paying tribute to their wives and girlfriends back home by naming tropical cyclones after them. This continued until the 1960’s when the feminist movement took umbrage, women should not be exclusively associated with death and destruction they opined.

Since then Hurricanes have been alternately named after traditionally male and female sounding labels.

So what I hear you cry!

Well, researchers have discovered that Hurricanes with female names create a greater loss of life than those with male ones. It seems that people who hear about the onslaught of Hurricane Penelope (don’t think that one actually exists) are not quite so afraid of its wrath as those who hear that Hurricane Burt (ditto) is on his way. As such they are less likely to batten down the hatches, run for the hills or strap down their worldly goods, with potentially disastrous consequences.

This knowledge set me thinking.

Many of the clients I deal with from selling or service industries, have a deep and fearful dislike of the Procurement Department, and enter into many of their inevitable meetings with trepidation. Other clients who perform the much needed function of ensuring the efficiency of the purchasing of products and services for their organisations, enter their meetings with Sellers with distrust and concern that they are about to be bamboozled and misled.

This can create a lack of creativity, openness and value creation from both sides. Not particularly useful if you are trying to develop long-term relationships between the two parties involved.

Perhaps we ought to start with a change in name.

What would you suggest?  

Alan Smith


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