“Center of Excellence.”
In fields such as health or technology, a Center of Excellence is often a place where top minds come together to share their knowledge and experience, and to strive for only the highest standards of achievement.
In the world of business, it’s a buzzword, a catchphrase designed to make something sound more impressive than it is. Affixing the label “Center of Excellence” to a group of talented or knowledgeable people does not automatically ensure that the work they create will, in fact, be excellent. On repeated hearings, the phrase sounds hollow and void of any real substance.
In a meeting today, someone proposed we create a Center of Excellence to help direct our company’s social media strategy.1 When I heard this, I died a little inside. Now, I’m all for getting the top minds together to make the best decisions, but if they’re seriously contemplating calling themselves the “Center of Excellence,” we need to find some better top minds.
I decided to do a little digging, and delved more into the meaning of Center of Excellence. As anyone can see, the center of “excellence” is two L’s. Or, in schoolyard parlance, “double hockey sticks.” However, I have it on good authority that any corporate Center of Excellence would have absolutely nothing to do with hockey. Not even air hockey. Nor would it involve football, turkey, zombies, monkey butlers, unrestrained laughter, skee-ball, ball pits, lasers, wolfsplosions, flux capacitors, hot fudge sundaes, footie pajamas, espionage and intrigue, Bill & Ted, Wayne & Garth, or C. Montgomery Burns.
How can something honestly be called “Excellent,” with a capital E, yet not contain a single one of these things? They might as well call it the Center of Mediocrity.2 At least that way, they won’t be getting anyone’s hopes up... and, if they succeed, they’ll look like geniuses!
Well, not like real geniuses. Real geniuses would have monkey butlers.3
1 Translation: ...to help figure out how we can use things like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to get young people interested in a stodgy old insurance and financial services company. Like that’ll happen.
2 The center of “mediocrity” is, fittingly, the OC.
3 And lasers.