Few things can get me as annoyed as usage of corporate buzzwords. They always seem to be uncalled for, cryptic and overall cringe-worthy. “No thanks, I think I’ll skip Cross-Pollinating with Becky”
Let’s open the kimono and sing from the same song sheet, corporate buzzwords are a pain to you and those around you.(And no “innovation” is not one of those intolerable buzzwords). We are all guilty of using them from time to time, but not only are you driving your team crazy, they are also harmful to your work environment.
It’s time, let’s call out the worst of the worst in this corporate buzzword compilation – that’s right, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite corporate buzzword aversions; those that are overused to the point where worn-out thrift shop panties look brand new in comparison, those that are straight out absurd and finally those that plain and simple make you feel nauseous.
Please join me in my rant on corporate buzzwords and maybe ask yourself: how many you are guilty of using?
1) Disruption: While the phrase might have made good sense in the late 90’s where it was conceptualized, as the dethroning of a dominant product or service by a smaller rival offering a radically new, better and cheaper solution, it has now become an omnipresent phrase, used by all sorts of companies, people and public figures. It’s no longer enough to be innovative, you must be DISRUPTIVE. “No, that paper-clip is not going to DISRUPT the market”.
2) Exponential: In the same lane as disruption, we find exponential. It’s no longer good enough with fast development it must be EXPONENTIAL (like disruption, it’s hard not to capitalize this word, because it’s so grand). The phrase has not only gathered a true cult of loyal followers, but also been used to explain anything from revenue growth to technological breakthroughs.
3) Customer Experience Journey: An evergreen that comes from a good place. If you understand your customer journey, you can better accommodate them with your service. Issue is, for many corporations, it’s more about talking the talk than walking the walk, for many simply stating that you have mapped your customers experience journey is more than enough.
4) Actionable Plan: A personal favorite of mine. Per definition a plan is actionable, if not, it’s simply a bad plan. When you say actionable plan, you imply that the plans you make are not always fit to be carried out, which is per definition a bad plan. In sum, just stick with plan.
5) Pivot: Fail fast, shift gears, turnaround; all that jazz.
6) Quick Wins: Something that is achieved in an easy-peasy-lemon squeezy kind of way with colossal impact. Sometimes this is possible, but most often not. Certainly not at the rate of which this word has been used.
7) Circle the Wagons: “Let’s all go in a circle around this wagon, this will surely lead us to success.” No. Just No.
8) Cross-Pollinating: As with many buzzwords, this one steals a page from the botanical world. In its essence, it’s about sharing ideas and initiative across roles and departments is a great idea – basically it’s what we’re all about. But can we, pretty please, start talking about it in a language we all get?
**9) Poking Holes: **Finding mistakes or things that are missing in a plan or project. I’m pretty sure, your teammates would appreciate just saying this when going over things together.
10) Transformational Journey: This one is plain out annoying. Unless you are referring to a Rumspringa or the like, then just don’t.
11) Moon-Shot: A way to explain a goal that is hard to achieve, sort of like the way this word is hard to understand for outsiders, in that sense, I guess it’s perfect.
12) Tribes: Just what?
13) Greenfield Communication: I’m not sure even Google knows what this means. A client brought it in a meeting last week, I’m still desperate to figure out what it means – I am grateful for any clues and insights.
14) Synergized Paradigm Shift: What does this even mean? Nobody really knows, but it gets the people going and is a favorite amongst the most hardcore buzzworders out there. Basically, it’s about changing how we perceive situations and think about our business – So, why not just say that we need to “start thinking differently”?
I Don’t Feel too Well…
15) Cryptocurrency: Jesus take the wheel! Just around Christmas this year, the usage of the word went berserk. The world found itself in the classical fairy-tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes – blockchain edition. Nobody really understood what was going on and nobody was brave enough to admit it.
16) Blockchain: Spoke to a guy working in business development in a blockchain startup, pretty sure he didn’t get exactly what they were really doing either. While the potential in blockchain technology is surely great, it has come to the point where everybody is talking about it, but only a selected few, actually understand what it is.
17) Socialize the plan: These days everything is social and connected. Apparently, this also applies to plans, how and why is less clear.
18) Mindshare: Discussing solutions and plans just sounds so boring, so why not spice it up with some good ol’ mindshare – sounds absolutely awesome!
19) Hyperconnected: People that ask to “socialize the plan” would most likely also describe our society as “hyperconnected” which is like connectedx100,000.
20) Change Agents: Sort of like the corporate James Bond, with a license to kill… old solutions… Or something along those lines. Basically, it’s about having people in charge of introducing new solutions – but I think involving MI5 in your 360 MSOffice roll-out is uncalled for.
21) Growth Hack: Oftentimes used in Startups, when you are not quite sure what you’re doing, but basically a bit of this and that – something that makes the company grow, preferably in a totally new, disruptive and exponential way!
In All Seriousness
Jokes aside, why is it that we need to get serious about quitting those buzzwords? According to Author of the book, Picking the Low Hanging Fruit…and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World, Kevin Kruse, using such corporate jargon has multiple damaging effects:
Firstly, you create language barriers, and divide people in to two groups: those that understand and those that don’t. For those that don’t, it takes energy to understand this exotic new language which in turn harms efficiency and overall work motivation and sentiment.
For those that do, overusing buzzwords has been found to lead to a lack of reliability and credibility amongst clients as well as the team. In these modern times, if a leader is not reliable or credible, it’s gonna be hard to be successful in managing a team, same goes for client relations.
Now that you know of the damaging effects of buzzwords on culture, all that is left is for you to think twice before you throw a “mindshare” in the mix. We believe in you – you can do it!