One of the nice things about the web is that you’ll always find someone who is doing something better than you.
On the theme of business cliches, Seth Godin has put together an encyclopedia on Squidoo. Below are his top ten. When I looked at them I realised that I use at least two or three of these words/phrases at times. So I thought I’d have a look and search my blog for these terms. Apart from “paradigm” (which pops up three times) I came out alright. How about you?
“Thinking outside of the box”
“At the end of the day,…”
Leon Gettler, The Age Blogs: Management Line writes:
On the same page, thought leadership, paradigm shift, out of the loop, result-focused, total quality, ballpark, ticks in boxes, value-add, touch base, think outside the box, stretch the envelope, put this one to bed, close the loop, at the end of the day, hot button, interface, guesstimate, key players, killer apps, focus collectively as a group, user friendly, bells and whistles, benchmark, slippery slope, win-win, game plan.
Analysis conducted by Factiva over the last six months reveals that the term “fast track” is the most popular, followed by “going forward” (as opposed to “going backwards”), “user friendly”, “empower”, “downsizing”, “multitasking”, “core competency”, “customer centric”, “client focused” and “rightsizing”.
The problem with these words is not that people don’t know what they mean, the problem is that they can make you invisible. What I mean by that is that people will read through the words; we subconsciously filter the sentence for these words. (Like “What the Dog hears”)
Leon goes on:”Every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one’s brain,” Orwell said.
To be honest, I’m guilty of using at least half of these words on regular basis. Thanks Leon, for reminding us.
“Our planning and implementation leverage best practice, proven principles, practical experience and world-class thinking. This enables you to translate business imperatives into action through people and their leadership.”
I’ve decided to start “The Blah-blah Ginger file”; a place to remind all of us how not to communicate.
(Title inspired by Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” cartoon. [What we say to dogs]: Ok Ginger, I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand Ginger? Stay out of the garbage or else!” [What they hear]: “Blah, blah, blah Ginger, blah,blah,blah, blah Ginger”)
I read an article on a site called Marketingtoday.com which caught my eye; it was about the use of meaningless buzz words and management speak in communications. I love this stuff, and it will only get worse I’m sure.
We (and our customers) are comstantly bombarded with communications through an increasing number of channels; email, print, blogs, your mobile phone. So what is the impact of using meaningless words, and why do people use them?
* They use them because it is easy; words like “solutions” and “synergies” are so generic and meaningless that you can stick them in a text willy-nilly and it won’t make any difference.Now thinking about what you actually mean takes a lot more effort.
* They believe that using these words make them sound professional, as if they know what they are doing. Wrong. It makes you sound like everyone else.
Buzzwords, management speak, marketing speak essentially do two things: they make you sound like everyone else and they make your readers switch off in boredom. And that is the exact opposite of what a marketer wants to achieve; i.e. stand out and excite.
Have a look at this page on the BBC website and scroll down to find contributions from readers…it’s a worry…
“Marketing departments tend be real experts in this area – if anyone can put a pig in a dress and call it grandma, they can! For example, Private Eye magazine runs a series called “Solutions” containing gems like “inter-paper fastening solutions” (staplers).”
I think you get the picture.