Corporate Jargon and Argle Bargle

Read­ing Time: 3 min­utes

I think we invent jar­gon because it saves times talk­ing to one-anoth­er.” — John May­nard Smith

Every indus­try has unique jar­gon, and most peo­ple fall, at one time or anoth­er, into using ter­mi­nol­o­gy spe­cif­ic to their domain of exper­tise. Some of the time this is unavoid­able because, well, that’s how those things are defined. Oth­er times, peo­ple use jar­gon as a short­cut and a crutch, avoid­ing plain spo­ken lan­guage in a mis­tak­en belief that they have more impor­tant things to say than they do, or that their words car­ry more weight, or that every­one else knows what the hell they’re on about, a con­clu­sion which is dubi­ous at best.

Which all got me think­ing, how much of this sort of thing real­ly exists in the con­fer­ence room? How much cor­po­rate patois exists for no oth­er rea­son than to fill dead air in an attempt to sound impor­tant? How much is just short­hand for some­thing we can’t be both­ered to explain clear­ly? How much of the aver­age busi­ness meet­ing is padded by the cor­po­rate equiv­a­lent of pub­lic speak­ing’s great neme­sis, the “um?” How much of our day is spent fling­ing mean­ing­less apho­risms on hap­less passers­by who most­ly wish you’d just sent an email instead?

To wit: how many syn­er­gies does a sin­gle pane of glass view of a cross-plat­form frame­work for col­lab­o­ra­tion real­ly need, after all? Is that actu­al­ly a par­a­digm shift? And since when did busi­ness become any­thing oth­er than results-dri­ven? Is cus­tomer delight dif­fer­ent than keep­ing our cus­tomers hap­py? Is it dif­fer­ent than hav­ing a client focus? Are deliv­er­ables some­thing we actu­al­ly deliv­er, or are they just more verb­ified nouns?

What is the big pic­ture, and how is it dif­fer­ent from a small pic­ture? Are table stakes an invest­ment in tables, some­thing with which to kill vam­pires, or are we actu­al­ly talk­ing about table steaks? If it’s the lat­ter, do the veg­e­tar­i­ans mind? Am I just out of the loop, drop­ping the ball, or a vic­tim of some­one mov­ing the goal posts? I was already upset my cheese got moved. I guess I don’t know the game plan.

How many miles must I have trav­eled before I can go the extra mile, and how do I put all of this to bed before I drop the ball? And if I don’t, does the ball go through the goal posts? Are we on the same page? Do I have a line of site on the neg­a­tive optics here? Is an optic more than a noun now; did it become anoth­er vic­tim of wan­ton verb­ifi­ca­tion? Am I just too blind to see?

I’ve always thought low-hang­ing fruit is the most con­ve­nient kind, but is that best prac­tice? Maybe we should take this offline. But if we’re offline why do I care about my band­width? What’s the big pic­ture here? I’m not yet cer­tain, though as I write this on premis­es, I believe I’m devel­op­ing a premise and have added some val­ue.

Rig­or and dis­ci­pline sounds like a BDSM movie title, but maybe that is what leads to cus­tomer delight. We’ll have to drill down on that to find out, espe­cial­ly if it’s your core com­pe­ten­cy. And at the end of the day, what is wrong with the morn­ing? If you dia­log at me can we put this to bed? Is this all action­able, or is it too far out­side the box?

Is a thought leader some­one who cre­ates cen­ters of excel­lence with their abil­i­ty to drill down? Do they find the strate­gic fit, get peo­ple on the same page, or push the enve­lope? How many thought fol­low­ers does a thought leader need before earn­ing that moniker? Will some­one please loop me in? We might be under the gun here and I real­ly need to touch base with our auto­mat­ed glob­al process in order to appear action-ori­ent­ed. We’ll revis­it that lat­er.

Then again, maybe I need to just stay in my swim lane until I’m up to speed, and before I cir­cle back for a client focused win-win with bet­ter optics. I cer­tain­ly don’t want to drop the ball as I push the enve­lope, espe­cial­ly if it’s a strate­gic fit and nobody has moved the goal­posts. I guess you might say that I’m putting a stake in the ground. I’m keep­ing my steak, though; writ­ing all of this argle bar­gle has made me hun­gry.