Every profession has jargon that is used as shorthand, and that’s great. Using jargon is necessary so a carpenter doesn’t have to say “that big metal doo-hickey” and so scientists don’t have to use long, boring explanations to explain what a uberthermodynamic enthropic reaction is (disclaimer: I don’t think that is real). These words and phrases are around to make their lives easier and less confusing. Buzzwords in business, however, seem to be around solely to make everyone a little more confused. I think they’re around so that you can convey meaning where none actually exists and so you can sound more important than you actually are. It’s the same reason some writers use the term “antediluvian” just to say “before the flood” or “really old.”
I’m not very fond of buzzwords. For the reasons I previously listed, they’re made fun of by a lot of people (present company included). This scene from 30 Rock is a great parody of using buzzwords. I went to B-School (Go Badgers) so I have a pretty good idea of what they actually mean (most of the time). I’ve seen more acronyms than I could ever remember, have heard of more “blue oceans”, and have explained the “hedgehog concept” (all it means is “do what you’re good at.” HOW IS “HEDGEHOG CONCEPT” EASIER?). Naturally, I’m a little jaded.
Here’s a layman’s dictionary of buzzwords you’ll hear in business, PR, and marketing from someone who is a little cynical about them. If this blog was a tabloid, I’d call this post “The Definitions THEY Don’t Want You to Know!!!” Check it out after the jump, and leave some more of your favorites in the comments.
A few months ago, I had an interview for a company in Madison. I had to give a 10-minute presentation on anything I wanted. I chose to do a presentation on The Simpsons, but in a way that connected it to the ethos of the 90′s, and how the show was an important critique of modern culture. After I started preparing for the presentation, it dawned on me how similar this show and what is generally considered the best TV show ever, The Wire, are. The Wire was a show on HBO that centered on the drug trade in Baltimore, but it was also a show about how the institutions that drive the world are corrupt and let us down. The local government, police force, public school system, and media are institutions that are supposed to aid the people, yet because of funding, red tape, and sensationalism they let us down. In its own way, The Simpsons does exactly that. What follows is a rough outline of what I said during the presentation. I may not have gotten the job, but it did allow me to think deeper about two of my favorite TV shows.