Ken Tabor’s blog post “They Are not Resources – We Are People” struck a chord with me. I distinctly remember hearing the term “resources” within the context of “people” for the first time back in the late 90’s. I was in a meeting at Compaq and a manager had been faced with some new scope for an IT project he was managing. His response was that he needed more “resources” in order to get the job done. As I knew the timeline for the project was fixed and the process for acquiring additional funding would almost certainly extend beyond his expected delivery date, I wondered what he meant. After the meeting, I asked him what he meant… his response was that he needed some more “bodies” to get the job done. For a minute, my mind whirred… why is it so difficult to simply say “people?” This particular manager was neither a bad person nor a bad manager… quite the contrary. I respected him quite a bit and still do. Over time, I began to notice that he was what could be termed an “early adopter” of many “Business speak” terms – such as “sooner rather than later,” “thrown a curve,” “boil the ocean” etcetera. Over time, I’ve discovered that much of this lexicon can actually be useful, though cliché and overused. For example, “Boil the ocean” does serve a useful purpose in distilling a lot of verbiage and meaning into three simple words that paint a clear mental picture. The term “resources” would serve a similar purpose if it were applied to the concept of time, funding, or people. The problem is that this never happened. “Resources”, “bodies”, “ICs” (individual contributors)… this is what “people” have become in the IT business world. Why? We’re talking about simple word choices here. Why have human beings been deliberately dehumanized and abstracted in this manner?
What useful purpose does it serve other than to demean and denigrate?