Business talk

Many people working in large companies speak business-buzzwords as a second language. Business language is full of pretty meaningless words. I Don’t Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore article tells that the language of internet business models has made the problem even worse. There are several strains of this epidemic: We have forgotten how to use the real names of real things, acronymitis, and Meaningless Expressions (like “Our goal is to exceed the customer’s expectation”). This would all be funny if it weren’t true. Observe it, deconstruct it, and appreciate just how ridiculous most business conversation has become.

Check out this brilliant Web Economy Bullshit Generator page. It generates random bullshit text based on the often used words in business language. And most of the material it generates look something you would expect from IT executives and their speechwriters (those are randomly generated with Web Economy Bullshit Generator):

“scale viral web services”
“integrate holistic mindshare”
“transform back-end solutions”
“incentivize revolutionary portals”
“synergize out-of-the-box platforms”
“enhance world-class schemas”
“aggregate revolutionary paradigms”
“enable cross-media relationships”

How to talk like a CIO article tries to tell how do CIOs talk, and what do they talk about, and why they do it like they do it. It sometimes makes sense to analyze the speaking and comportment styles of the people who’ve already climbed the corporate ladder if you want to do the same.

The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon article tells that the stupid business talk is longer solely the province of consultants, investors and business-school types, this annoying gobbledygook has mesmerized the rank and file around the globe. The 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. If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon. Jargon masks real meaning. The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon article has a cache of expressions to assiduously avoid (if you look out you will see those used way too many times in business documents and press releases).

Is Innovation the Most Abused Word In Business? article tells that most of what is called innovation today is mere distraction, according to a paper by economist Robert Gordon. Innovation is the most abused word in tech. The iPad is about as innovative as the toaster. You can still read books without an iPad, and you can still toast bread without a toaster. True innovation radically alters the way we interact with the world. But in tech, every little thing is called “innovative.” If you were to believe business grads then “innovation” includes their “ideas” along the lines of “a website like *only better*” or “that thing which everyone is already doing but which I think is my neat new idea” Whether or not the word “innovation” has become the most abused word in the business context, that remains to be seen. “Innovation” itself has already been abused by the patent trolls.

Using stories to catch ‘smart-talk’ article tells that smart-talk is information without understanding, theory without practice – ‘all mouth and no trousers’, as the old aphorism puts it. It’s all too common amongst would-be ‘experts’ – and likewise amongst ‘rising stars’ in management and elsewhere. He looks the part; he knows all the right buzzwords; he can quote chapter-and-verse from all the best-known pundits and practitioners. But is it all just empty ‘smart-talk’? Even if unintentional on their part, people who indulge in smart-talk can be genuinely dangerous. They’ll seem plausible enough at first, but in reality they’ll often know just enough to get everyone into real trouble, but not enough to get out of it again. Smart-talk is the bane of most business – and probably of most communities too. So what can we do to catch it?

1,063 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Suzy Welch: What to say when a job interviewer asks, ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’
    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/31/how-to-answer-the-interview-question-where-do-you-see-yourself-in-5-years.html

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Professor of Business Ethics Guido Palazzo confirms that a similar pattern can be seen in every corporate scandal he has analyzed. Read more on ethical blindness in corporations https://fal.cn/35kjW

    Ethical Blindness Explains Why Good People Do Bad Things
    https://www.aaltoee.com/aalto-leaders-insight/2019/ethical-blindness-explains-why-good-people-do-bad-things?utm_campaign=insight&utm_content=9769340be91344b49b6a4a0d0d7115c1-103201673052624&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=Aalto+EE+-+Aalto+University+Executive+Education

    Professor Guido Palazzo is an expert on the dark side of the force – why good people do bad things. Aalto Leaders’ Insight spoke with Palazzo about a question every CEO should be aware of: ethical blindness.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Economic Protests Are Spreading Across The Globe. Here’s Where And Why.
    http://on.forbes.com/61861rOfg

    Topline: Many of the mass protests happening around the world were sparked by anger over the economy—especially rising inequality and high costs of living—and then quickly evolved into larger, more potent social movements. 

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Toxic Is Your Workplace Exactly? Quite Toxic If These 8 Things Keep Happening Every Day
    Do your co-workers violate company policies repeatedly? Yes, toxic.
    https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/how-toxic-is-your-workplace-exactly-quite-toxic-if-these-8-things-keep-happening-every-day.html?cid=sf01002

    According to UNC’s Keenan-Flagler Business School, it is estimated that toxic workplaces cost U.S. employers $23.8 billion annually in the form of absenteeism, health care costs, lost productivity, and more.

    A company’s most valuable asset–its people–is rendered incapable to perform at a high level because most are too distracted by people trying to sabotage and manipulate the work environment.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Google Tried to Prove Managers Don’t Matter. Instead, It Discovered 10 Traits of the Very Best Ones
    https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/google-tried-to-prove-managers-dont-matter-instead-they-discovered-10-traits-of-very-best-ones.html?cid=sf01002

    Google’s definition of what makes the very best managers will help you be your very best.

    It’s not every day you learn of a really smart company setting out to prove that managers don’t matter. But that’s exactly what Google did with Project Oxygen.

    The hypothesis was that the quality of a manager doesn’t matter and that managers are at best a necessary evil, and at worst a useless layer of bureaucracy. The early work of Project Oxygen, in 2002, included a radical experiment — a move to a flat organization without any managers.

    The experiment was a disaster, lasting only a few months as the search giant found employees were left without direction and guidance on their most basic questions and needs.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Probable Future: How We Pursue New Markets Without Neglecting the Now
    https://blog.paessler.com/a-probable-future

    Reply

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