On the Importance of Words…

It is part of our culture at Protegra to carefully choose the words we use to represent ourselves and communicate. It is understood how important the very words are themselves and what they say about us when we use them. For example, we don’t use the term employee or manager as those words imply a hierarchy and categorize people. We routinely create new terms for industry terms not to be difficult, but because we feel the industry terms do not communicate the true intent and possibly communicate the wrong message.

I must admit that sometimes I feel we fuss too much about the terms we use. I have often thought that the discussions would be quicker if we just adopted the terms that everyone else uses. I mean we know that know that we don’t have managers and employees, what would be the harm in using the manager term to just have a common language with other people? We could communicate quicker and there would be less back and forth and miscommunication. Right?

A lesson from my Son on Father’s Day

On Father’s day I took my son and daughter to our favourite place, The Manitoba Museum. Little did I know that my son would teach me the importance of the words we use.

Anyone who has been to the Manitoba Museum probably knows the Buffalo diorama right inside the entrance.


As we walked up to it, my son informed his sister that the diorama was depicting a First Nations Buffalo Hunt and the First Nations hunted the Buffalo for food and clothing.


As my son talked about the First Nations as we walked through the Museum, the First Nations were talked about with equality and respect. Maybe some of this was due to the absence of terms that in the past created a hierarchy between First Nations and Canadians that immigrated here. Regardless of the cause, I thought about how important the words we choose are. The words can determine the image we portray and whether it is a positive or negative image. I then appreciated the work that has been done over the past decade to implement the First Nations term. In provides my son and daughter a much better image of the respect and duty the First Nations people are owed by the rest of Canada.

And it also reminded me how important words are when we interact with people in our teams and in all aspects of life.


Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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