Wednesday, 7 March 2018

More corporate BS that makes me die a bit inside

Cooking up the Schlieffen Plan for the mind
2018 is frequently described as a year cursed with uncertainty. But in the business world, of one thing we can at least be confident. Which is that, as we cycle back, take stock, and touch base, we have reached, leveraged and pulled the trigger on an inflexion point of corporate guff.

Across the interconnected landscape of the current economic environment, in bored rooms inhabited by C-suites, change managers and key stakeholders, the culprits have actioned a lexical paradigm shift inflicted upon the English language, evidencing a disconnect between the synergies of the sublime and the ridiculous.

But taking a deep-dive through the lens, what value-add can we evidence; what key learnings might we leverage? Maybe these dedicatedly client-focused, resolutely results-orientated, woefully misguided folks know not what they do. One thing is clear: we shouldn’t let them get away with it.

Here goes…

Best of breed
For the moments when SVPs fantasise they are running alongside their Cockapoo at Crufts, that they bred horses for a living, or are surrounded by long-haired Persian cats, rather than evaluating three spreadsheet management software providers.

Complexity with lots of connections all linked to each other, a bowl of sticky rice, or an angry kitten playing with a giant ball of string.

Deep dive
As in “Let’s do a deep dive into this data”. Let’s forget for a moment that data is a plural. I think it just means analysis, or putting in some work, detail or focus on whatever stats or topic is on the table.

Interface (verb)
Part of a wider trend of creating new verbs when perfectly adequate ones exist, then overusing them, so often that it seems no power-point presentation or report to your boss is complete without them.

Roadmap (verb)
“We’re roadmapping our way from Point B to Point S.” Pure bullshit. Why not say navigating?

It could mean acceleration (or deceleration, but I’ve never seen it used in this way). Again, it’s just about overusing tired phrases that make presentations sound like you’re speaking the same BS language as the recipients.

Thought leadership
This old chestnut. I don’t know why I didn’t include it in previous lists. It’s just good marketing, highlighting that a firm is taking a lead on a certain topic, demonstrating innovation, and showing that “yeah, we know stuff” – a phrase I’d like to see used more often.

Key takeaways
Points of summary, or a late-night Lamb Kofta?

Unlocking the value proposition
Deriving value from this thing? Levering profit out of that thing? Beloved by business development managers or comms and marketing merchants for explaining how some good idea, a societal trend, or the hard work of some back-office grunt can be turned near-effortlessly into the sales team's next epic bonus.

Driven by robust decisions
As opposed to what: tea-leaves; spin the bottle; Nostradamus? Stop saying this.

And that's it for now. I'd love to hear more.

For previous iterations of my corporate crap lists, offering equally horrible examples of finance, marketing and PR platitudes, you can read the first and second instalments ... here and here.

Elsewhere online, I recommend the writings of Lucy Kellaway, formerly at the FT, before she took up teaching, and also revising the sublime BS of Stewart Pearson, the fictional Tory spin-doctor strategist charlatan in The Thick of It.

My own favourite phrase of Stewart Pearson's is "We're cooking up the Schlieffen Plan for the mind, here!" Try yelling that if I interrupt your next power-point presentation.

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