Sunday, June 14, 2009


On May 25, 2009, The Globe and Mail announced the reorganization of its executive team. The newspaper’s publisher and CEO, Phillip Crawley, shared the news with staff in an office e-mail message that was quickly reported elsewhere. In setting the context, Crawley wrote:

“Reimagination-inspired teamwork during the last four years has reinforced the value of a more collaborative way of managing our business.”

There has been a lot of ‘reimagining’ going on lately, it seems. Big-budget movie remakes, for example, are commonly sold as ‘reimaginings,’ both to explain away any discrepancies with their sources and to convince audiences they offer a sufficiently fresh viewing experience. Yet, the term ‘remake’ still suits them, as in no way does it define the quantity of new content, nor the level to which that new content may surprise people.

Crawley’s missive, similarly, uses reimagination as a buzzword, without gaining any meaning from it. For one thing, all teamwork inherently reinforces the value of collaboration; that’s not a matter of reimagining anything.

For another, to be inspired by reimagination means nothing in itself. Inspiration must have a source, not simply the process of imagining or reimagining it.

Indeed, as a buzzword, ‘reimagine’ is often offered with scant (or zero) details to back it up. This is a shame, as the bar isn’t particularly high to begin with: while reimagining involves, strictly speaking, imagining again or anew, it does not necessarily have to lead to a different result at all.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of one of my favourite PR-person encounters. A few years ago, I was on a media trip to Disney World. As we were discussing the engineering that goes into those big rides, I asked "How many engineers does Disney employ, anyway?" Instantly, about half a dozen members of the Disney team screeched at me "They're not engineers! They're Imagineers!" (Trust me, they said it in upper-case.) But I digress.