Useless Business Jargon

jargonThe next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it.

People use jargon as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction they wish to give others.  Jargon masks meaning.  Jargon can mean different things to different people.  You might be saying one thing -- while your audience is hearing another.

  1. Core Competency

    This awful expression refers to a firm’s or a person’s fundamental strength—even though that’s not what the word “competent” means. Do people ever talk about peripheral competency?  Being competent is not a very high standard.  We might as well say core mediocrity!

  2. Buy-In

    This means agreement on a course of action, of the most disingenuous kind.  However, seeking someone’s ‘buy-in’ tells them, ‘I have an idea.  I didn’t involve you because I didn’t value you enough to discuss it with you.  I want you to embrace it as if you were in on it from the beginning, because that would make me feel really good.'

  3. Think Outside the Box

    This worn-out turn of phrase means to approach a business problem in an unconventional fashion. Think. It's hogwash.  Thinking is good, whether conventional or unconventional... Just think.

  4. Giving 110% (or more)

    The nice thing about effort, in terms of measuring it, is that the most you can give is everything—and everything equals 100%. You can’t give more than that, unless you can make two or more of yourself on the spot, in which case you have a very interesting talent indeed. To tell someone to give more than 100% is to also tell them that you failed second-grade math.

  5. Best Practice

    This refers to a method or technique that delivers superior results compared with other methods and techniques.  Best relative to what? Are you "funding" for "the best?" This term is perhaps the single most pompous confection the consulting industry has ever dreamed up.

There are certainly more.  These are just a few that I find particularly amusing (and sadly, I find they are in my active vernacular).


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