There is such a thing as the vocabulary gap. Being able to manage more words generally indicates a higher level of ability overall.
Words are tools. You can bludgeon someone over the head with your jargon or ugly talk, or express yourself more clearly with the right words.
“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Mark Twain
Communication and communion have the same root meaning. Yet words can unite, or divide, or antagonize, confuse, bore, encourage, create and so forth.
Then there are words with multiple meanings. Politicians like to use the word “change” in their campaigns, but what they mean specifically is change in their bank account balances. #realityministries
Mike Caputo, Academic Medical Center and Health System CIO at MUSC, is aligning the 400+ employees of the organization’s IT shop around a vocabulary called ITIL. ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a set of detailed practices for IT service management (ITSM) that seeks to align IT services with the needs of business.
What ITLI really is …. is a vocabulary with agreed-upon meanings and values to improve communication among IT employees. And even Mr. Caputo may (or not) realize that by expanding his group’s vocabulary, he is also expanding their overall abilities. #powerofwords
Without further ado…
The 2017 Corporate Zombie Speak Collection
- buy in…maybe it’s really “agreement”
- core competency…don’t you want something more than competence?
- branding (It did sting a bit to see this submission.)
- deliverables…do you work at a pizza restaurant?
- empower…can come across as paternalistic / condescending
- engagement…don’t you mean you want employees to care about their work?
- holistic approach…maybe if you work at Whole Foods you would use this
- inclusive (meaningless)
- lots of moving parts….do you work inside a pinball machine?
- metrics…a false god
- measurables…see above
- move the needle…are we using heroin?
- open the kimono…inappropriate and a bit creepy
- organic…unless you’re a farmer
- readiness…blech…do you mean to be ready? or prepared for something?
- scalable...a good word that’s overused
- silos…see “organic”
- strategically align … (meaningless)
- strategery… (meaningless)
- sustainable or sustainability …do you mean “results guaranteed”?
- swim lane…we’re not at the pool
- transparency (As my friend Gina pointed out, leaders talk about “transparency” when there is none.)
- unreliable (as in processes)
- value-added …not bad unless overused
- value streams…really?
- verticals …I’ve never seen a group of humans standing on top of each other; this submission is my personal favorite.
- wellness…reminding me that our healthcare system is really a disease management system
Why do we use these highly-forgettable words?
Mostly we use jargon (and I’m guilty too!) to signal that we belong in the conversation.
We repeat words we tend to hear. It’s especially useful to mirror language used by people we want to impress or build a relationship with.
Or it’s a combo of laziness and carelessness.
For sure no one’s going to come up with new thinking using worn-out jargon and phrases.
If you’re using Corporate Zombie Speak, you’re strengthening the status quo. To bring change, use different words. Stress shuts down memory so be memorable.
Use words that create a picture of where you want to go. Make it easy for people to remember what you said.
Some words go in and out of fashion. A major way culture changes is through the use of new words and new meanings attach to existing words.
“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” science fiction writer, Phillip K. Dick