There is this situation in the comic strip Dilbert when the boss is concerned because “nobody has nominated a co-worker for a special achievement award,” and that this “looks bad (because all the other departments are giving themselves awards.”

When the boss says “We might have to lower our standards a bit,” the young woman, whose hair is shaped like a Christmas tree, says, “I’ve been proactive in that area.”

In this case, the word proactive is laced with double meaning. Has she been proactive in staying on top of a corporate situation? Or has she been proactive in “lowering our standards a bit?”

What about this word proactive? Is it legitimate? Do intelligent people use this word? Or is it one of those corporate buzz words that sounds good, but really isn’t necessary? If you can act and react, why do you have to proact?