Monday, October 26, 2009

Buzz Kill: Death to the Buzz Words


After having some fun with this on Twitter (#AntiBuzzWords), I decided to compile and expand it into a blog. I, like many other people, detest buzz words. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Maybe if you're trying to impress your boss, or your boss's boss, but the rampant overuse of these words drives me crazy. And they're often used in place of any real thought or communication. I'm guilty of it too, but we have to break the cycle and start using real conversation again.

Here are my top 8 worst corporate buzz words...

  • Empowerment - Yes, leaving me out on a limb to figure this shit out for myself is quite empowering. And when did management begin to think task delegation is akin to knighthood?

  • Proactive - let's anticipate and react before the crisis. Who am I, Kreskin? And that would be preactive, Einsteins.

  • Bandwidth - how much bandwidth do you have? I'm not a freaking modem, I'm a human being! I can't multithread or multitask, or bend the space-time continuum. I'm busy!

  • Metrics - I need the metrics by COB. You mean measurements? Seriously? Let's cut to the chase - you mean you need a bunch of numbers, and you're not really a math whiz, and you're just going to pass them to someone else, who also isn't a math whiz, so how about skipping the metrics and we start speaking English. What do you really want to know?

  • Synergy - combined interactions among different departments and employees to achieve a desirable outcome. Great idea. But first, we just need to fire all the assholes, discourage politics and competition, and set up a healthy environment where employees actually could collaborate with employees at all levels instead of stew in total isolation in their cubes.

  • Holistic - It really means looking at things as a whole system instead of its individual parts (*cringe* "staying out of the weeds"), but it's often implied as looking at a project or issue from multiple perspectives. I love that concept, but let's face it. Most business people are one-dimensional. You know what? You're wholistic. And the only thing you can make out at 50,000 feet is a land mass, and certainly not my house.

  • Think Outside the Box - Just as clever as "color outside the lines". Excuse me. What do you call the 4 x 4 x 4 x 4 cloth-walled workspace you stuck me and the other lemmings in? A cube? It's a fucking box. Let me out and I'll start to think again.

  • At the End of the Day - the most overused phrase in any office. At the end of the day, we're just making widgets. Really? Waxing poetic? Bullshit. If you had an ounce of Zen in your body, you'd stop freaking over all the things out of our control, and you'd throw the TPS Reports and rest of the red tape in the recycling bin where it belongs.


And you know this wouldn't be any fun without creating our own phrases. I call them my anti-buzz words...

  • Crater Effect - Impact? Crater effect! As in, how many tectonic plates will shift after the meteor shit storm if we choose to go with your strategy?

  • At the End of the Meeting - Why wait until the end of the day when we can acknowledge right freaking now this project is doomed?

  • Devaluation - A pre-biased assessment of a proposal you know you hate before you even read it. Yay. Ernie's got another idea. Can't wait to devaluate it, big guy! Or, a performance review given by an unpleasable boss who loathes you. Did you get your devaluation yet? Me either.

  • Spynergy - Who needs the truth when you have a full marketing department at your disposal? (And bonus word: spynergistic - something especially spin-worthy.)

  • Factionable - I understand it doesn't meet the timeline, but what if we add more resources? Is it factionable?

  • Inanonymous - Total absurdity with complete deniability and zero accountability.

  • Schemeless - A totally undetectable plan, or even plan for a plan.

  • Preactive - I'd like you to be able to react before whatever "it" is happens, or I'll undoubtedly blame you for not foreseeing "it."

  • Best of Greed - The corporate bible of executive practices.

Your input is valuable. I empower you to share in the comments! Though we're missing face time, it's good to touch base through your BB. Shift your paradigm. Streamline your takeaways and join us in this sea change of diverse contingency planning, and circle back for some low-hanging fruit and a mindshare. It really can be a win-win.


5 comments:

One Wink at a Time said...

You did such a good job covering the subject that I'm clenching my teeth. I prefer your words, especially Preactive.
I cringe when our Co. Pres. refers to new designs as "sexy"... we make medical devices for crying out loud! And he's forever trying to keep everyone "up to speed" and "on the same page." That is sooooo last decade. Gah!

Count Sneaky said...

There are two sources for buzzwords: the corporate world, and the media which is, by extention, also the corporate world.It represents the
death throes of literacy and the commercialization of words themselves. So, wot th''ell...mights well make fun of 'em mate! No?

Count Sneaky said...

OK! I've repaved my parking lot, and negotiated season tickets while translating the corporate manual into English. I'm ready. Let's epate le bourgeois. I'm following! My best Count Sneaky

Mike said...

I hope you enjoy this shift in paradigms, Count Sneaky! Thanks for following!

Anonymous said...


How 'bout the miss-used buzzwords - where there's a perfectly good English word - "future" for example - and the grammar-challenged go around spouting stuff as "going forward".
Or from a business mtg the other day - "drill down" (i.e., focus on, or investigate, or inspect, or study.... And "true up", instead of verify, or calibrate, or correct, or even "fine tune"?

Just plain dumb...