5 Worst Business Buzzwords

April 14th, 2010

I’ve written before about overused business clichés.  But what about all those business buzzwords?  Well, I hate most of them too.  There are two things I hate most:

  • Using words that are utterly meaningless (non-words).
  • inventing new words to replace perfectly good ones

I could give you a LONG list of words that meet that criteria, but here are 5 of them that particularly bother me and YOU should avoid:

1. Solution

A word that I absolutely love.  Unfortunately, it’s been overused so much that the word has lost all meaning.  When a company says it is your complete (fill in blank here) solution, how many times do you roll your eyes.

It’s a shame.  True story.   Once in an ESL class, a student was reading advertisements and asked if “solution” meant software.  It took me almost 30 minutes to convince the student that solution did NOT mean software.

Hey it’s not accounting software: It’s full accounting solutions.

But doesn’t it just mean software? Can’t they just say full accounting software?

Just be quiet and study.

2. Actionable

Action is an AWESOME word.  It has energy and passion.  Let’s take action.  Action is needed NOW.  All talk and no ACTION!

Actionable?  It’s action’s second cousin who needs to go to the gym and lose 20 pounds.  Passive and boring.

Interesting report, but is it actionable?  No idea.  We could make paper airplanes out of it. That would be an action, no?

Your sister’s pretty.  Is she actionable?

3. Incentivize

Huh?  Why not go with motivate?  Is there anything wrong with that word?  Not cool enough for you?  I don’t see why you need to make up a new word.

People are not motivated, let’s incentivize them!

4. Synergy

All right.  We all know this means synthesis and energy.  But do tell: when you see a company named “Synergy” does it mean anything to you?  It doesn’t mean jack to me.

Boss: We need more synergy.

Not boss: How do we do that boss?

Boss: I don’t know.  Go read the Covey book. It’s in there somewhere.

Not boss: How about going to a synergy seminar?

Boss: Even better.  THEN, we’ll know how to use our synergy.

5. Brain Dump

OK.  I don’t like this because I thought the word was a joke at first.  I was laughing until I realized that everyone else was as serious as they could be.  Could it be my potty humor creeping in?  I don’t know about you but I just have a problem with creativity being linked to relieving bodily functions.

Sorry man, had to take a brain dump.

Light a match…a brain dump is coming on.

Watch your step…I took a brain dump over there.

Don’t step in that pile of brain dump.

Is this facility co-ed for brain dumping?

Man, that word is funny, funny.

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