I loathe –
loathe – made-up acronyms.
This is something we often did when I worked in crop insurance.
I mean, you had to work in crop insurance for a few years, just to
learn the acronyms.
This was even more true for private products where we would invent some gimmick and create a name for it.
A product called “APCO” was there when I started and ARMtech decided to expand it into revenue protection too.
During the planning phases, everyone called it “RAPCO” but laughed about it and hated it.
One day, I started calling it “REVCO” and it stuck. (See below.)
For that matter, all acronyms are pretty terrible…
I like this because leadership is communication.
From time to time, Musk will send out an e-mail to the entire company to enforce a new policy or let them know about something that’s bothering him. One of the more famous e-mails arrived in May 2010 with the subject line: Acronyms Seriously Suck: There is a creeping tendency to use made up acronyms at SpaceX. Excessive use of made up acronyms is a significant impediment to communication and keeping communication good as we grow is incredibly important. Individually, a few acronyms here and there may not seem so bad, but if a thousand people are making these up, over time the result will be a huge glossary that we have to issue to new employees. No one can actually remember all these acronyms and people don’t want to seem dumb in a meeting, so they just sit there in ignorance. This is particularly tough on new employees. That needs to stop immediately or I will take drastic action—I have given enough warnings over the years. Unless an acronym is approved by me, it should not enter the SpaceX glossary. If there is an existing acronym that cannot reasonably be justified, it should be eliminated, as I have requested in the past. For example, there should be no “HTS” [horizontal test stand] or “VTS” [vertical test stand] designations for test stands. Those are particularly dumb, as they contain unnecessary words. A “stand” at our test site is obviously a *test* stand. VTS-3 is four syllables compared with “Tripod,” which is two, so the bloody acronym version actually takes longer to say than the name! The key test for an acronym is to ask whether it helps or hurts communication. An acronym that most engineers outside of SpaceX already know, such as GUI, is fine to use. It is also ok to make up a few acronyms/ contractions every now and again, assuming I have approved them, eg MVac and M9 instead of Merlin 1C-Vacuum or Merlin 1C-Sea Level, but those need to be kept to a minimum.
-Ashley Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Amazon)