Director's Further Instructions/Different Flipping Idea. (Polite version). This wonderfully flexible and expressive term (thanks N Purcell) is commonly used in the film and TV industry when a change of plan occurs, typically after considerable (and now wasted) effort by the crew to achieve the original plan. In fact this frustrating and time-wasting shift in executive direction occurs very widely in all areas of management and leadership, including at the very highest level. The alternative interpretation of meaning - Different Flipping Idea - is the understandably sarcastic response from the teams, subordinates and victims of whimsical unthinking leaders, the world over. The original meaning 'Director's Further Instructions' conceivably dates from the 1930s golden age of film making when Directors of Photography (DoPs) wore white lab coats and Heads of Departments (HoDs) were always referred to as 'Sir'. Most film/TV technicians today are more familiar with the second ironic meaning of this acronym, perhaps reflecting an increasing tendency of mind changing among modern directors. The lesson of DFI teaches us the importance of good quality planning, consistent project management and communications, towards a properly considered aim. When leaders change their minds (methods and/or aims) half-way through a project it is nearly always the result of poor planning, even though leaders tend to blame changing circumstances and deny any personal failing. The advent of changing circumstances is not an excuse for poor planning. One of the most crucial and often overlooked elements of planning and leadership is to anticipate circumstances. This generally involves some good quality thinking and consultation, and probably some research too. Where the DFI effect arises, this aspect of leadership is almost certainly missing. By way of illustration, a certain ex-leader once said at a certain inquiry into a certain disastrous war: "It wasn't a lack of planning, it was that we discovered a different set of eventualities..." (See leadership tips, leadership theories, project management, and business planning.)
Deoxyribonucleic Acid, represented by the famous double helix, and the Human Genome Project which successfully mapped human DNA in 2003. DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) was first identified in salmon sperm by Friedrich Miescher in 1869, and was generally accepted to carry genetic code of all living things following the published work of Crick and Watson in 1953. A mischievous alternative interpretation to the usual meaning of DNA is National Dyslexia Association, which is of course cruel if used as such, but does offer the opportunity to explain a little about Dyslexia, which is widely misunderstood. As regards the word Dyslexia, its meaning, 'difficulty with words' is derived from Greek (lexis is Greek for speech), and that's what it means - difficulty with words, notably spelling and reading - it does not mean that the person is daft or stupid, in fact often the opposite is closer to the truth. Dyslexia is often called a gift, since for many 'sufferers' that's what it is. Interestingly as many as 10% of people at work are thought could suffer with this disability to one extent or another (source: British Dyslexia Association - not the National Dyslexia Association, which is a made-up organisation to fit the acronym). Two important points about dyslexia: Dyslexia is technically a disability as well as a 'gift', so employers quite rightly have to make appropriate allowances for sufferers or risk falling foul of disability and discrimination laws. An innocently intended workplace joke or email, like the outrageously non-pc "Dyslexics of the world - Untie!" (thanks L Scott..) would be grounds for a disability discrimination claim, or perhaps even a bullying tribunal, so be careful. Secondly and more positively, dyslexia sufferers tend to have special strengths resulting from the way their brains work, notably in problem-solving, innovation, creativity, trouble-shooting, entrepreneurialism, intuitive feelings and judgements, sport, politics, and artistic expression of various sorts. Famous dyslexics include Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, David Bailey, General George Patton, Robin Williams, John Lennon, Nigel Kennedy, Cher, Muhammad Ali, Steve Redgrave, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John F Kennedy, Richard Branson, Henry Ford, William Hewlett, Charles Schwab, Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Erin Brockovich - see, it's a gift. This aspect of alternative strengths relates to multiple intelligence theory, which like the whole area of individuality, is much neglected in education and work. Employers, teachers, and individuals seeking more information about dyslexia should visit the BDA website. Finally, and nothing to do with Dyslexia, DNA might alternatively be employed (thanks S McCarthy) to mean Do Not Ask, which aside from other purposes is a witty response for anyone seeking the full scientific explanation.
Not Yet Diagnosed - Nervous. British Army Doctor's shorthand from the First World War, used on medical reports of soldiers suffering from shell-shock. Prior to official recognition of the condition, the term GAK (God Only Knows) was used. By December 1916 more than 17,000 British troops were officially diagnosed as suffering from nervous or mental disability (we'd say shell-shock or post-traumatic stress disorder these days), despite which the British military authorities continued to charge and convict sufferers with cowardice and desertion, and sentence to death by firing squad many of those found 'guilty'. In all, between 1914 and 1918, 346 British soldiers (including Commonwealth soldiers serving with the British army) were shot by firing squad. Over 300 of these men received the death sentence for what amounted to being incapable of fighting due to shell-shock and mental illness. The firing squads typically were made up from their own reluctant comrades. Most of the victims were very young men - some even less than the official recruiting age. Many had previously distinguished themselves for many months or years in the most savage conditions ever experienced in warfare. Few if any of the convicted men had proper representation at their 'trials'. Most were informed of their fate a few hours before the execution, even though the decision to carry out their sentence had been made some days or weeks prior, thus appeals were effectively prevented. Relatives were rarely informed prior to the execution and afterwards were refused access to any papers or details, incredibly because permission was required by the condemned man (difficult to believe, but true). Widows were denied normal pensions and rights, and many were ostracized by their communities. Other countries either did not shoot their own soldiers, or have long since issued full pardons, and in many cases have commemorated the victims. Only in 1989 did the British Government agree to release full details of the trials and the circumstances of the executions (on a rolling 75 year basis, so as to reduce the embarrassment and reaction). After decades of lobbying and campaigning by mostly ordinary people, on 16 August 2006, the British Government agreed to pardon 306 of these men (seemingly the number of British soldiers considered shot for 'cowardice' or 'desertion'), subject to ratification by Parliament, which came on 7 November 2006. It's a pity it took so long. The many government ministers who up until this time refused to do the right thing, and worse, who reinforced the 'guilt' of the victims and prolonged the suffering of their families, should search their own souls and learn from their failings. More about this subject is at the deeply disturbing website for the Shot At Dawn Campaign. More is also in the wonderful book 'The Thin Yellow Line' by William Moore, first published in 1974, revised in 1999, and still one of the most stirring accounts of institutional inhumanity and injustice that you will ever read. It took 90 years for this wrong to be reconciled. The story emphasises two things: first, that people in authority have a responsibility to behave with integrity; and second, that where people in authority fail to act with integrity, the persistence and determination of ordinary people will eventually force them to do so. See also the stories page for suggestions of how this all relates to ethics and responsibilities, and the related discussion ideas. 2b1af7f3a8