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Codenames and the importance of naming

One of the more popular games of recent times is called “Codenames.” It can teach us something about the importance of naming, context, and the importance of being on the same page.

How to play Codenames

For those who have not played “Codenames,” it is a game where you have a 5×5 grid of 25 randomly selected words, like “Antarctica,” “bubblegum,” and “tape.”

The group splits up into two equal teams of one clue-giver and a bunch of guessers. The clue-giver from each team is then given a random assortment of the 8-9 words in that 5×5 grid.

The objective?

Each clue-giver has to give their team a one word clue, along with the number of words their clue applies to, to try to get the team to ultimately guess all of their words. For example, in the above example, you might say, “Sticky, 2” which means that the clue is “sticky” and there are two words (bubblegum, tape) included in the 5×5 grid that the clue applies to.

So, what does this have to do with naming?

Ask anybody in your organization to define what some of the different three letter acronyms mean, and you might get blank stares. Similarly, lacing communications with in-company buzzwords and inside jokes will only serve to alienate the audience.

My communications are sometimes wordy and might use simple words, but that is the point. Keep it simple and understandable by all.

While my partner and close friends can dig into strange places for clues in a game of Codenames, we could not do that with total strangers.

When you are in a professional setting, make sure you are speaking clearly with simplified communication, to ensure that people fully understand what you are asking.

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