The great Reggie Perrin could never stop picturing a hippopotamus at the very mention of his mother-in-law. I’m experiencing a similar mental quirk where the hippopotamus is replaced by blancmange and the mother-in-law is replaced by a different trigger. Let me explain.
It’s said that Tony Blair admitted his discomfort at finding, during his first months of office, that he kept pulling the levers of power and then discovering they weren’t connected to anything. I think he spent the next few years trying to make the levers work, and I think we all know how that experiment worked out.
People aren’t solid objects and groups of of people are even less object-like. They can’t be leveraged and as soon as you use that language, you’re in danger of screwing up, big time. Lately I’ve been using a phrase I made up – “blancmange leveragers” to describe folks who are over-attached to being in control, and inventing new schemes to make things happen. The more elaborate their “tools”, the fancier their diagrams, the more abstract their language, the bigger their “announcements” and the more sanctimonious their tone… the more I see them leveraging blancmange.
That’s not because we’re blancmange, obviously not. But the more you treat us as objects, the less impact you’ll have. Which isn’t to say, sadly, that you might not still get paid a lot of money for pretending.