Sunday, July 15, 2007

Buzz costs time and money

I've been reading the annual reports of public companies these days, and I'm thinking of creating an award for corporate communicators who can write an entire business document that doesn't contain the word leverage (as a verb) or solution (where no problem has been identified)--or the truly awful solution as a verb: "We'll solution that issue after lunch."

If American business isn't competing as well as it once was, one of the reasons may be that American business can't communicate as well as it once did. Oh, we're wired, all right, and we're in constant contact, but that means only that words are flowing. It doesn't mean we're communicating. We're so busy working the latest buzzwords into our conversation, we've forgotten that words are supposed to move ideas from one brain to another, not waste our brain power as we try to decipher what our colleague just said.

My new favorite is landed on, which appears to mean something we decided or agreed to: "This is the design we landed on."

Yes, I know language changes; ginormous has just been added to the lexicon, after all, but too often business buzzwords are nothing more than attempts to create an in-group--a linguistic cool kids' table. But if we're to compete successfully, we need to leave adolescence behind and work together. Dropping the buzzwords would be a good first step.

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