Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 24th, 2019

Business Jargon

By Max Mallet, Brett Nelson and Chris Steiner

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it.

Just don’t say you’re doing it.

If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon.

No longer solely the province of consultants, investors and business-school types, this annoying gobbledygook has mesmerized the rank and file around the globe.

Jargon masks real meaning,” says Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”

To save you from yourself (and to keep your colleagues and customers from strangling you), we have assembled a cache of expressions to assiduously avoid.

Glossary: The Most Annoying Business Jargon

We also assembled a “Jargon Madness” bracket—similar to the NCAA college basketball tournament—featuring 32 abominable expressions.

Each day, for 32 days, readers will get to vote, via Twitter, on one matchup. The goal: to identify the single most annoying example of business jargon and thoroughly embarrass all who employ it and all of those other ridiculous terms, too.

In the meantime, here are some of the worst offenders Forbes has identified over the years. For a full list of 45, click here.

Core Competency

This awful expression refers to a firm’s or a person’s fundamental strength—even though that’s not what the word “competent” means.

“This bothers me because it is just a silly phrase when you think about it,” says Bruce Barry, professor of management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Business. “Do people talk about peripheral competency?  Being competent is not the standard we’re seeking.  It’s like core mediocrity.”

Buy-In

This means agreement on a course of action, if the most disingenuous kind. Notes David Logan, professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business:

“Asking for someone’s ‘buy-in’ says, ‘I have an idea.  I didn’t involve you because I didn’t value you enough to discuss it with you.  I want you to embrace it as if you were in on it from the beginning, because that would make me feel really good.’”

S.W.A.T. Team

In law enforcement, this term refers to teams of fit men and women who put themselves in danger to keep people safe. “In business, it means a group of ‘experts’ (often fat guys in suits) assembled to solve a problem or tackle an opportunity” says USC’s Logan. An apt comparison, if you’re a fat guy in a suit.

I had a colleague at a recent job that used pretty much all of these expressions. The missing term here is “added value,” which is to say that we could do something of value, but through the subjective judgement of a boss, it’s not valuable enough to justify doing something. It’s a passive-aggressive way of telling somebody, “I’m the boss and you’re not going to work on that,” without having to own up to it.

Check out the results of our Forbes “Jargon Madness” bracket.

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The precarious existence of human species

A few conditions for the emergence of our species.

Observers have identified two dozen fortunate breaks we have had on Earth to create just the living organism. Not to mention the hundreds of conditions for the formation of human species that is Not within this scope.

If the Sun was larger, it would have exhausted its fuel before Earth could be formed because the larger the star the more rapidly it burns.

If we were two light minutes closer to the Sun we would be like planet Venus that cannot sustain life; Venus surface temperature is 470 degrees Celsius and all its water has evaporated driving hydrogen away into space.

If we were 1% further from the Sun we would be like frozen Mars.

If our core didn’t contain molten liquid we would not have magnetism to protect us from cosmic rays.

If our tectonic plates didn’t collide to produce more gases and continually renew and rumple the surface with mountains then we would be under 4,000 meters of water.

If our moon was not large enough, one fourth the size of Earth, then Earth would be wobbling like a dying top with unstable climate and weather. It is to be noted that the Moon is slipping away at a rate of 4 centimeters a year, relinquishing its gravitational hold.

If comets didn’t strike Earth to produce the Moon or asteroid to wipe out the Dinosaurs, or

If we didn’t enjoy enough stability for a long time, human would not be what they are.


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