The other day I received an email from my boss which scared the hell out of me… In this email, which was about business planning, he said he was ‘excited’.
Now why would this be scary you may asked? Well I spend my days trying to avoid bosses when they get ‘excited’, it means that I too will have to become ‘excited’ about something which I am pretty sure I won’t be .
Fellow Blogger Ben Parr has pretty much hit the nail on the head when he listed “The List of Buzzwords You Should Never Use”. He was talking about advertising terms, but I think it applies equally to management speak.
These days managers feel that to be effective any email needs to include at least one of these meaningless buzzwords to ‘motivate’. Believe me, inserting one or two buzzwords doesn’t magically make something that is totally boring ‘exciting’.
Ben’s list got me thinking, more and more management books are being published every day, and they are all flooded with these words. So I though what would make my Top 10 list of ‘Classic’ buzzwords, the ones that are perennially trundled out at my workplace, and maybe yours too, and just like Ben’s list, they aren’t in any particular order:
1. Game-changing – Since when has anything been ‘game changing’, well occasionally some things do change ‘the game’ permanently, but I’m damn sure that the email sitting waiting in my in-box from the combined brilliance of my employers management team isn’t like President Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon…
Apollo Eleven on the Moon
“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” So will my manager’s exciting email about business planning be ‘game-changing’? not a chance…
2. Revolutionary– So if you come up with something that features a slightly new colour or maybe has a new name, let’s call it ‘revolutionary’. The truth is that almost nothing today is ‘revolutionary’, it is always ‘evolutionary’, i.e. the same old idea repackaged, or updated, or augmented, or just the same but with a new name. Now the invention of the steam engine, that was revolutionary!
The French Revolution
The French Revolution was Revolutionary. But business planning, risk management or having staff morning teas, sorry management gurus, they just aren’t ‘revolutionary’ ideas.
3. Solution – Time and time again at my work my boss or other managers come up with ‘the solution’, as if it’s the magic panacea to all the world problems, when instead they just dug into their bag of past ideas. What’s wrong with just providing an answer to a question, why does it have to be the one and only ‘solution’! A solution is a mathematical statement that not only provides answer to a problem, but also explains the logic or calculations used to reach the answer. A management decision is never the only alternative, and rarely ever gives clear logic for how the decision was made, instead it will give you the ‘benefits’ or justifications, therefore it just can’t be a solution… Get over it guys, you just aren’t that clever. According to Adam Sherk, the word ‘solution’ is the 7th most overused buzzword in media releases refer to his article at – http://www.adamsherk.com/public-relations/most-overused-press-release-buzzwords/
4. Never seen before– What a load of crap, how many times have I been told that this problem or issue have ‘never been seen before’! There is nothing that has never been seen before, the world has been around a long time,
Myopia, my boss definitely suffers from it… and I am damn sure that the the issue that my boss has just stormed into my office with, and demanded an instant ‘solution’ to, has been seen somewhere before, even in his myopic existence…
5. Synergy – whoever thought up or started to use this term needs to be shot… It’s only 69th on Adam’s list, but it’s used endlessly by motivational speakers, especially those who follow Stephen Covey, you can read all about it at http://www.stephencovey.com/blog/?tag=synergy/, just don’t choke on all the buzzwords. Why don’t people just communicate (i.e. talk to each other) and listen to and share ideas, make use of each other resources and skills, guess what, that creates synergies… why insert a buzzword? (Damn I just did…)
6. Killer Points – Somehow every document is SO much better when it’s a ‘killer’ document!!! I’m a part-time soldier, and a trained killer, believe me, no email or management pep talk has killer points when compared to the effects of a few well aimed shots from my semi-automatic … Why can’t a document just be good or effective, why does it have to be a ‘killer’ document with ‘killer’ points? I agree with Ben Parr, if I get an email with killer points, I reach for the delete button…
Now James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) definitely has some killer points!!!
7. Groundbreaking – See point 4, nothing really is ever actually ‘new’ or ‘groundbreaking’, get over it boss… It comes 11th on Ben’s list and 45th on Adam’s list, but it’s 7th on mine. As I said before, nothing is ever that ‘groundbreaking’, the world evolves.
8. Transformative or Transformational Leadership – Why can’t you just be a good leader, who leads by example, is strong, is consultative, and i.e. gets things done. Why put a silly buzzword in front of things…
9. Paradigm shift– A paradigm shift is a fundamental change to a theory or belief, it’s not the latest management fad or trend. Newton created a paradigm shift when he discovered gravity, Copernicus caused one when he realised the Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, A true Paradigm Shift, the Earth wasn’t the centre of the universe, thanks Copernicus.
Copernicus, the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology
Einstein when he put forward the theory of relativity, but the iPad and iPhone are not new paradigms, are you listening marketing gurus!!!
And finally, Ta Da…
10. Excited – Well what’s left to say, no boss I am not excited by another round of business planning, it happens every year and I am still to see anything to come from it apart from more work for me… Excitement is me winning the lottery, catching the eye of a hot looking babe, beating my personal best on a training run, or doing other things that I really enjoy. It’s the anticipation before the event, it is not opening another email from you!!!
(Part-time soldier who definitely has some killer points of his own)
Capt. Savage, can't you see the excitement written all over my face?
P.S. So was I excited by the bosses most recent ‘exciting’ email… No!!! my bosses email didn’t cause excitement, it had a similar effect on me as most election campaigns do… Although I don’t quite fill out my chair like these gents do… Got to love Americans… (See the excited folk below).
Excited McCain supporters at an US election rally