Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Business Bull

One of the things that annoys me about meeting and listening to businessmen is the crap that they speak. There is a whole new vocabulary in business that when assembled together form sentences and paragraphs that are barely comprehensible to the speaker, let alone the poor fools who have to try to understand them.

The philosophy of this business banter is to try to impress the person on the other end of the conversation. In many cases this approach works and you see two people using cliché after cliché in a discussion that is unfathomable to the majority of rational people. I’ve listened to many such engagements and have been flabbergasted, not only at the diversity of the vocabulary and phrases used, but also at the fact that somebody actually appears to know what the conversation is about.

Simple descriptions have vanished. Simple words are extinct in the world of business. Buzz words and phrases have evolved and rule the world of business exchanges and the disease has spread to magazine articles and documentation. It’s a completely new language. It’s unbelievable.

In some cases, these people have actually invented new words, amalgams of existing business words; words like anticipointment which apparently describes situations such as a massive deal that was expected to be sealed is more likely to be lost. Who would be impressed if their boss came up to them and said “There’s a possibility of anticipointment with the Fairfax contract”?

Here are some of the phrases I’ve heard at my own place of work that make me feel like vomiting in disgust:

Black belt programmer
Blame culture
Fire fighting
Knowledge procurement
Knowledge transfer
Living document
Mission critical
Out-of-the-box thinking
Out of the loop
Team player
Technical architect
Technical innovator
The big picture
Touch base

It’s not difficult to find more outrageous phrases if you look hard enough on the internet. Here are some of the best (most vomit-inducing) I’ve stumbled across:

Alpha geek
Best of breed
Core competency
Customer focussed
Digital hygienist
Gap analysis
Intellectual capital
Principle centred
Proactive flexibility
Strategic paradigm
Thought shower

It’s not difficult to create entire sentences loaded with these phrases. I found a couple of bullshit generators and came up with the following “mission statements” (sorry should have mentioned that in the above lists):

We envision to professionally supply scalable products to exceed customer expectations

We exist to seamlessly negotiate mission-critical leadership skills while continuing to globally coordinate high-payoff methods of empowerment

We reinvent architecture synergies

It is our mission to unleash robust solutions

Our priority is to synergize rogue technologies

We capture innovative paradigms, procure customer-centric knowledge and produce best of breed performative topographical and sustainable infrastructures for mission critical solutions

That last one was all my own work. Can I have a job?

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