Sunday, 24 January 2010

Bullshit Buzzwords

In every industry, we have to put up with terrible business buzzwords. After all, ‘blue sky thinking’ enables us to crack the real issues at hand.

I jest.

I never have, and never will be a fan of using pointless phrases to describe a situation, process or result. The real problem is that people don’t question these meaningless phrases any more.

I read an amusing piece by Armando Iannuchi where he describes how a representative from Capita Symonds referred to the congestion charge as a ‘Greenfield Opportunity’, and how he felt like he was the only person in the world thinking ‘hang on a minute! That's not a real world phrase’

Whilst Armando, myself and millions of others feel left behind by such wanky new-speak, the problem is that it doesn’t pay to question buzzwords. Flagging someone up when they let fly with a phrase such as ‘360 degree’, ‘brand platform’ or ‘hard-wiring’ with no genuine context just makes them feel stupid. The attention then turns to you as some sort of spiteful Neanderthal naysayer looking to instil your archaic principles of ‘common sense’

N.B. The term ‘common sense’ brands you as a knuckle dragging Daily Mail reading Nick Griffin sympathiser. Just try mentioning it, you’ll be mocked in seconds.

We return to the dilemma of an executive. Do you drop buzzwords left right and centre to massage the egos of the all powerful Media leaders and fit in with the crowd, or do you stick to you 20th century principles of ‘common sense’ and plain talk?

About a year ago I found the answer. Buzzword bingo. Print of sheets for all the executives and juniors in the office containing around 20 different buzzwords:

Any non-sensical acronyms
full service,
having 'the conversation'
Chasing down leads
entrepreneurial spirit,
top down,
Business silos
Giving names to projects like the are special opps e.g. Project Golden Eagle
Solid foundations

Etc etc – (please feel free to add to the list. It is a real relief to write down your hated buzzwords as if to prove they don’t belong in the real world. They don’t belong in someone face hole, ready to come out like a putrid gas. They belong written on a witty and sarcastic blog page).

Whenever someone utters one of these abominable phrases, you can tick it off at the privacy of your own desk, sniggering at the idiocy of others. The game then develops as you trying and drop in as many buzzwords to conversations as possible, without getting noticed.

This has provided great relief over the last year from the menace of evolving media language, yet it has its own perils from when you utter buzzwords yourself. Many friends and colleagues will fail to distinguish between you – the sarcastic purveyor of ‘common sense’, and you ‘the media buzzword wanker’.

I feel so dirty, I’m off for a mind shower.