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WUHOT... NOT!

I accidentally stumbled over a new acronym when I wrote my book on project management.  I'm making it my mission to make it part of the American vernacular.  The term is WUHOT, and it stands for "Walks Upright, Has Opposable Thumbs" - you know, your basic run-of-the-mill biped.  A primate who navigates (barely) on two legs, preferably without dragging the knuckles.  We're not asking this person to create, to lead, or (God Forbid!!!) to think.  And so this person doesn't.  He or she survives and endures in the world of corporate lingo, not having been deselected by the evolution of organizations.

In Race Through The Forest, my WUHOT has a name:  Reece S'Orce.  Ha!  Can't pull anything over on you... you got that word play right away.  In their generic terms, those breathing assets on our team are called resources.  Especially harsh is to call them head count.  Not humans.  Not people.  Not mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews.  Certainly not dreamers, aspirers, creators, doers, reachers, builders, makers, thinkers, or liaisons.  Nope.  Just resources.  We would not want to differentiate them in any way.  Sure, they may have skill sets, but we don't care.  Not in our own tidy world of making them fit into our project plan like a square peg into a round hole.  And we wonder why the only thing good we can say about them is that they "walk upright, have opposable thumbs."

If we are going to create Carpe Factum organizations, we'll need to find a way to get past the WUHOTs.  While they may not agree, firing them might be a good start.  If you think that is unduly harsh, you would provide the same courtesy to lunchmeat and salad dressing that had lived past their expiration dates.  Why not give the same consideration to people who are not useful to your organization?  Most WUHOTs are not evil by nature.  Just misunderstood.  Zombies in a field of people who probably fit better into their jobs, cultures, and environments.  Some are victims of the Peter Principle.  Some are merely burnt out.  Some were promoted for all the wrong reasons.  Some were hired because of their relationships in the network.  Perhaps voting them off our corporate islands will force them to find a new reality.  One where they can shine... and dream... and accomplish.  Who is preventing your Carpe Factum?

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Comments

Crysta Wille

What should I do if I have a terminal case of my WUHOT? I think I've stayed long enough to stagnate. Help!!

Timothy Johnson

Crysta - good question (and congratulations on the self-awareness). If you fear stagnation coming on, but you're not quite ready to make that big leap to another job or career, I recommend to people that they change one significant thing about themselves that is under their control (hairstyle, car, rearrange a room, take a class). Generally, a change to routine can be a great thing to jar us out of the complacency of WUHOT-ness. Let me know how it works.

Crysta Wille

I did the my hair, only the office vampire noticed and my kids laughed at me. I joined PMI and was told "we don't value you that". So I'm in the midst of a job re-search meaning that I'm evaluating what I do that gives me energy and looking for that not just another job. I asked for leadership training and was told "you don't qualify". I asked for a mentor and was told "we already chose those for the year." So, message received. I'm on my own.

But I did start wearing colors that rock! It's my creative voice speaking where I can't in a sea of blue and grey.

Timothy Johnson

It sounds like you are on the right track, then. It also sounds like you might be gravitating toward "less linear, more creative" careers. Don't be afraid to open yourself up to all possibilities... also feel free to check out some of the books that I recommend on my site. I only recommend books that I've read, that I love passionately, and that I return to again and again.

Crysta Wille

Tim, I took the plunge into consulting October 2006 and have loved every minute of it, shaking off the lethargy and WUHOT terminitis. Thanks for your counsel. I've recommended your site to tons of folks and we continually compare notes on your posts. Best, CJ

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