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January 4, 2018

30 Pieces of Corporate Jargon to Quit Saying in 2018

The business world is full of jargon.

Most of this jargon has origins as metaphors once used to evoke a visual image. Over time, however, these metaphors become overused and less vivid. This occurs because the metaphor becomes familiar to the reader, no longer forcing him to dissect its meaning.

At the same time, the writer overuses metaphors as a substitute for thought - why dream up a refreshing way to describe something, when you can say what everyone else is already saying. Often, the intent of what is being written barely fits the original meaning the metaphor, so what was once a device for sharpening a description becomes blunt.

George Orwell described such a situation in his classic essay, 'Politics and the English Language':
DYING METAPHORS. A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically ‘dead’ (e. g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles’ heel, swan song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their meaning (what is a ‘rift’, for instance?), and incompatible metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not interested in what he is saying. Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line is sometimes written as tow the line. Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase.
In honor of the 68th anniversary of George Orwell's death, I present a list of corporate BS language to stop using in 2018:
  1. Think outside the box
  2. What's the ask? (aka using a verb in place of a noun)
  3. Let's take that offline
  4. Touch base
  5. Get the ball rolling
  6. A lot on my plate
  7. It's on my radar
  8. Rubber hits the road
  9. Now we're cooking with gas
  10. Move the dial/needle
  11. Game changing
  12. Disruptor
  13. Low hanging fruit
  14. Paradigm shift
  15. Synergies
  16. Kicking goals
  17. Move the goal post
  18. All hands on deck
  19. Value add
  20. Engagement model
  21. Client experience
  22. <Insert need or product type> solutions (e.g. investment solutions)
  23. Solution (as a verb - e.g. we have to solution this for a while)
  24. Ideation
  25. Action (as a verb - e.g. let's action this investment solution asap)
  26. Job descriptions seeking 'gurus', 'ninjas', 'rockstars' or similar nonsense
  27. Robust this, robust that
  28. Big picture
  29. Circle back
  30. The grand daddy of them all: Strategic
The list could have been a lot longer. But I believe anything more could cause eye cancer.

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