Let's Outlaw Corporate Jargon

Last Updated Feb 25, 2009 12:56 PM EST

I'm a big fan of Steve Krug's Web usability book "Don't Make Me Think." The title reflects a simple rule: Anything that makes a Web-site visitor have to pause and think, even for a moment -- such as labeling an employment section "Join the team!" instead of "Jobs" -- reduces usability.

I think the same rule should apply to meetings. Yesterday, I attended a meeting in which so many trendy business buzz-words were being thrown about that I actually pulled out a notebook and jotted them down.

What they all had in common was their tendency to force listeners to translate the actual meaning behind the speaker's words, rather than seamlessly receiving the information.

Consider this sentence:

"We have a lot of thud-factor documentation to indicate that we should leverage our ability to funnel customers into appropriate silos, but we don't have the governance in place at the present time."
Translation:
"We have a lot of good research that shows we need to do a better job of getting our customers to the right products, but we don't have good policies right now."
Why not just say that in the first place?

Here's a partial list of the other gems I recorded yesterday:

  • low-hanging fruit (n.): easy opportunities or actions
  • parking lot (v.): to intend to discuss something further at a later date
  • evangelize (v.): to enthusiastically promote a product or project
  • SME (n.): a subject-matter expert
  • bubble-up our findings (v.): write a summary
  • bleeding-edge (adj.): even more current than cutting-edge
It's time to revolt.

Communication should be clear and direct. Meetings should give attendees quick and useful information, not obscure the matter at hand behind trendy doublespeak. People shouldn't need a buzz-word dictionary to make sense of what others are saying.

Let's make the workplace a jargon-free zone. Are you with me?

(Heard any good jargon lately? Tell me about it in the comments section. I'll make a list.)

(image by egvvnd via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.