Announcing a new service at FunnyBusiness - Seth Godin's The Encyclopedia of Business Cliches. If you scroll down this page you will see the 'widget' that features the top five entries.
Being this is a web 2.0 encyclopedia, anyone can add an entry and anyone can vote on cliches listed to help rank them in order of abuse and overuse. You can view the full list by clicking on the link in the widget with the headline ' Here's my top ten.'
As a long term fan of business cliches, I do take exception with Seth's contention that the majority
''exist for one reason: to hide.
By obfuscating, lying, confusing or just plain avoiding the issue,
business people can avoid communicating. Do you have the guts to stop
using cliches? "
My research indicates that a lot of good can come from using the sometimes mind numbing corporate mombo jumbo. Three years ago I wrote about this phenomenon in a piece called 'The Competitive Advantage of Corporate Speak."
In that post I interviewed Mary Zellmer-Bruhn, a professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
'Zellmer- Bruhn also says that having a corporate language plays an important role in the development of the corporate culture. “It makes people feel they are part of a group and that creates loyalty. People are more committed and feel special when they speak a similar language."
Turns out that in corporate speak, like music and books, there are a variety of genres. The genre your company uses says a lot about the culture.
Militaristic Corporate Speak: A company that relies on terminology like deploy, flying under the radar, and annihilate the competition, probably is a hierarchical command and control organization that is concerned with job titles and clear boundaries.
Sports Oriented Corporate Speak: Companies that like to say there is no “I” in Team , tag-up, and drop the ball, suggest that the organization is more fluid.
Acronym Corporate Speak :Then there are the companies that talk in acronyms. This is a culture that doesn't want to waste time. They charge by the hour and using three syllables throughout the day can add up to lost revenues."
My love affair with corporate speak goes back to my earliest days in business. I was sitting in a conference room filled with marketing, sales, food testing,and people from other centers of excellence that I can no longer remember. At one point I asked a simple question about the marketing problem. There was a distinct shift in the room.I realized I had said something very offensive but I had no idea what it was. later I found out that I had offended the senior manager by using the word 'problem.'
He had banished the word from all Pillsbury communications. It was the silliest thing I had ever heard. I still have issues with businesses insisting on putting a positive spin on every situation but that 's a different story.
When my company created its website in 1995 my contribution was to write Corporate Patois ,a weekly column(that's what I called it in 1995,writing a column .) Each week I would feature a word or phrase used in business and share a story to put the phrase in context. It was my pre-blog.
i've added some entries to Seth's list. My two personal favorites are: I need to get flat with you and Are We Complete?
If these are terms you are not familiar with, take a guess what they mean. I'll circle back in a few days and share my answers to see if we are like-minded.