Corporate flunkies speak in tongues
By Lisa Earle McLeod www.forgetperfect.com
Whats the difference between vision and mission, and does anybody even care?
Im all for getting everybody pointing in the right direction, but why do companies always seem to think that a bunch of fancy buzzwords etched into a bronze plaque will impress their customers and motivate their employees to reach new heights of greater productivity?
I dont know about you, but the words bandwidth, deliverables, and value proposition dont exactly inspire me to stay past 5 p.m.
I once worked with a paper company where the chief chimp in charge was fond of issuing proclamations like: Its all about synergizing our core competencies into a differentiated value model for our stakeholders.
Yeah, right. We sold toilet paper.
However, after years of trying to decipher stupid, vague, and absolutely meaningless management mumbo jumbo, the rank and file are fighting back.
Well, actually theyre not fighting back, but they have found a way to ease their suffering by entertaining themselves at managements expense.
Theres a secret game going around the hallowed halls of corporate America. Its called BS Bingo and its probably being played at a meeting near you.
The rules are simple. Players get points every time someone utters an overused corporate cliche. You can print actual Bingo cards off the Internet at www.bull****bingo.net (you fill in the blank). Instead of N-31 or O-67, the squares are labeled with buzzwords like content management and vertical market.
You can also download a version for your Palm at www.BSbingo.com.
Either way, one round of drilling down to the value-added, intellectual property derived from free enterprise and accessible via an electronic delivery system will insure that the aggregate attendees at your next off-site are no longer BORED OUT OF THEIR BLOODY MINDS.
My husband, a former BS Bingo champ, once got five across before the head honcho even finished his first slide. The official rules require you to stand up and shout bull**** when you get a Bingo.
But my husband and his fellow corporate climbers decided that they wanted to keep their jobs. So they opted for silently texting each other across the conference table.
I understand why people like buzzwords. Theyre cool and they make the boss sound like he might have an original idea. But all that jargon is often just a cover for the fact that nobody knows what the heck theyre doing.
Throw around words like ROI and market window and you never have to actually explain yourself, because people are too embarrassed to admit that you lost them three strategic acquisitions ago.
And when youre a consultant, if you start using plain language, companies will start wondering why they hired you. After all, theyve already got plenty of their own employees telling them they need to make better stuff; they hired you to identify the fast track to greater brand equity.
Once you get used to speaking in corporate tongues, its sometimes a hard habit to break.
Brian Fugere, a principal in Deloitte Consulting, refers to himself as a recovering jargonaholic. Jargon-clean for the last two years, Fugere recently wrote Why Business People Speak Like Idiots (Simon & Schuster, $22) with fellow bullfighters Chelsea Hardaway and John Warshawsky.
The authors, whose Web site is www.FightTheBull.com, insightfully illustrate why business speak never captures peoples imagination or enthusiasm. All most employees and customers want, they say, is for someone to simply tell them the truth.
So lets make a pact. Lets leverage our human capital and generate a paradigm shift. Ive done an extensive benefit analysis and if we can effectively eliminate all non mission-critical verbiage from our playbook, its a win-win for the entire global enterprise.
The on-boarding process starts Monday morning, dont be late.
Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Earle McLeod. All Rights reserved.
Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of Forget Perfect: Finding Joy, Meaning, and Satisfaction in the Life Youve Already Got and the YOU You Already Are. She has been seen on Good Morning America and featured in Lifetime, Glamour and The New York Times. Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.
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