In previous columns, I've been critical of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. However, it's only fair to also recognize the enormous effect she's had on the science of management.

I refer, of course, to how she's finally solved the age-old management problem of making layoffs seem strategic rather than desperate.

Of all management tactics, layoffs are the most destructive and risky. Top talent departs; those who remain become fear-bound. A downward spiral generally ensues.

To make matters worse, "layoffs are often a sign of failure by top executives to properly manage a business and forecast needs," as  Fortune magazine recently put it.

Because CEOs naturally want to avoid being blamed for layoffs, they have struggled for years to find the exact turn of phrase to put a positive spin on them.

Past attempts include "downsizing," "rightsizing," "reengineering," and even "ventilating the organization." Alas, those buzzwords weren't entirely convincing.

Enter Marissa Mayer.

According to The New York Times, Mayer has coined an innovative terminology to describe the elimination of thousands of jobs: "remix."

Mayer not only uses "remix" herself, but also insists that Yahoo senior managers similarly avoid what she calls the "L-word" and use the upbeat alternative.

Brilliant! Besides sounding strategic and intentional, "remix" conveys a sense of fun and creativity.

Consider: Which of these two statements would you prefer to make to your investors, your board and your employees?

  1. "I'm announcing another layoff because I'm desperate and incompetent."
  2. "We're doing a remix for disruptive innovation in the knowledge economy."

The second statement has the huge advantage of sounding both strategic and proactive while the first statement has the huge disadvantage of being clear and truthful. Who needs that?

By inventing an impactful new buzzword, Mayer has both disguised her own failure and given her fellows CEOs an invaluable tool to do the same.