A few months later, Ottakar's was bought by HMV, who owned the Waterstone's bookshop chain and, almost overnight, the culture of the business changed.
I quickly discovered that reflection was a bad thing. We needed to be continually going forward and it wasn't enough to just do things - we had to ensure that we were actioning them. However, if opportunities presented themselves, we were encouraged to take advantage of any easy wins.
If we were presented with a rather challenging spreadsheet full of sales figures, we were encouraged to drill down and identify any issues. If there were issues that were beyond our control, we were encouraged to escalate them to a higher level. On the few occasions that anyone owned up to making a mistake, it was announced that learnings had been made. If I dared to make joke about this in meetings, I realised that I was surrounded by people with no sense of humour. I had to go.
But if we're aware of our language and why it is in a constant state of flux, it is harder for the dictators to insist that their words belong to some long-established immutable truth. This is why I was delighted to accept an invitation from the British Library to do a sponsored post about a new exhibition called "Evolving English".
Evolving English is a free exhibition which is open until April 3rd this year and includes the only surviving manuscript of "Beowulf", the Shakespeare Quartos, Dr Johnson's dictionary and a variety of examples of different uses of English, including early advertising campaigns, text messages, comics, children's recordings, web pages, lists of slang and examples of newspapers from around the world.
If you live too far away to visit the Evolving English exhibition, there are opportunities to join in online. First, there is this quiz, which isn't as easy as I thought. Second, you can participate in the Tweetosphere (you heard it here first) #evolvingenglish.
I'm delighted that an exhibition like this is taking place, because as long as we are of what's happening to our language, we can stop others from misusing it.
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