I have watched corporate jargon evolve for at least 2 decades. Words that are rarely heard today were used in every other sentence ten years ago. Corporate speak does not make you sound any smarter and quite frankly is irritating to most people. Here is a brief history of this language and the current buzzwords you should know if you want to "hang out with the cool kids."
Corporate speak has been around since the great depression.The official rise of corporate speak came in the 1950's when Carnegie Mellon and M.I.T. began to research the science of management. A new field of organizational development was created aimed at instilling an emotional connection between the employees and the business they worked for, this was the birth of the corporate culture.
Throughout the 1960's the stock market, silicon valley, and the world of advertising and marketing did their best at creating inclusive words like mindshare, ideation, paradigm shift, value added, and optionality.
The rise of business consultants in the 1980's was responsible for a slew of new corporate jargon as well. These folks were often hired to do the dirty work of firing employees. Words like down-sizing, restructure, create operational efficiencies and streamline processes were used to describe firing people. Consultants continue today to use new buzz words in an effort to impress the folks that hire them.
Let's fast-forward to the 1990's where words like innovation, disrupters, re-engineer, rattler, python, and drink the kool-aid came into vogue.
Today's corporate jargon is not any different than it was 60 years ago. It is still created by the same industries, used by the same types of business, creating an inclusive atmosphere and causing miscommunication and alienation between people and the businesses they work for, the exact opposite of what the folks who ushered in corporate culture were intending it to do.
So let's go through my list of the most entertaining and irritating corporate jargon of today.
Open the Kimono- Reveal information.
Core Competency- A firm or person's fundamental strength.
S.W.A.T Team- A group of deemed "experts" formed to tackle a problem or opportunity.
Tiger Team- A super team formed to tackle an issue usually I.T. related.
Bleeding Edge- A technology so advanced there is no practical use for it.
Burning Platform- We're in trouble.
Vertical- A specific area of expertise in a business.
Psychographics- A marketing term used to describe the investigation of why people buy certain products or services.
Boil the Ocean- To waste time, or create an unrealistic expectation. This term was created by Will Rogers when asked what to do about the German U boat aggression in World War II.
The body of Work- A hi-brow way of saying the total project.
Peel the Onion- Take apart a problem and look at each area.
I don't have the Bandwith- I am too busy.
Sales Stack- A group of technologies to assist sales people and enhance the sales cycle.
Customer Experience Stack/ CX-A group of technologies to enhance the customer experience.
K.P.I's- Key performance indicators designed to measure progress in any area.
While this list could be much longer, these are my favorite corporate jargon words of today's business environment. Hopefully understanding these words will help you the next time you find yourself playing in the sandbox with the "cool kids."