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Buzzwords & Acronyms - Fun or Functional?

Or add to productivity and clarity?
I sat in a presentation the other day, and the presenter used the expression "In that space" at least 30 times, plus a few variations on the theme.   I am afraid after the first 5 I stopped concentrating on the content, and started waiting for him to say it again....
In business, we catch onto phrases and words and use them, ad nauseam.  Paradigm shift was a favourite for ages, it is still used, but not quite as extensively.   Then there are "blue sky" and "green field" projects or opportunities, and endless acronyms that can trip you up badly as they are used differently in various industries.
I ask, and then land up having every one, even the more obvious, explained patiently for the rest of the meeting.   One sweet young man translated IT for me, a few years ago, as Information Text.
Recently, I confirmed what PM stood for in a meeting.   There was a collective gentle, patronising drawing in of breath, and Project Management was supplied as the answer.  OK, I knew it wasn't Prime Minister, but it could have been People Management, Preventative Maintenance or possibly Post Meridian.  Private Messaging and Post Mortem also spring to mind.   I do accept that I should have picked up on context, but sometimes I am so busy trying to understand the acronyms that I miss the obvious!
Last year I went to an excellent 2 day conference.  It was hosted by one of the major software platform suppliers.  I spent most of the time on my iPad, looking up acronyms so that I could keep up with the very technical conversation…
I know it seems obvious now, but 24/7 took me a while to translate about 20 or more years ago.
While many of our expressions come from sport, or war, there are those that are from "back in the day".    “Opening the kimono” during a due diligence gave me pause.  “Getting into bed with” is another merger favourite!
We regularly pass the buck which has to stop somewhere.
Level playing fields are important as is understanding the amount of heat you can take before you have to get out of the kitchen.
Mindfulness!!!!!!!  Oh, how that one has hit the mainstream.   We have to be mindful of so many things all the time, what has happened to a bit of happy daydreaming?  I believe that Sony had a concept that allowed staff to spend 10% of their time just thinking as they believed that great ideas came from people allowing their minds to wonder in different, lateral directions.
In South Africa, a great many of us use the excuse of applying our minds when we need time to think something through, or simply to procrastinate!
And right now, we have disruption.  The word is disrupting so many good presentations that, once again, my concentration is flagging.  Not to mention its first cousin, innovative disruption.
Here are a few more regularly used buzzes:
Synergy, strategy, think outside the box and sea change.   I know that going forward and thinking holistically are two of my regulars.
Of course, who doesn’t want to be in their own wheelhouse?   Or be a thought leader?  
Spin up is another beauty – in the IT world this usually is aligned with tin(computer hardware for those who live generally tin free lives).
We throw around terms like IoT (Internet of Things), SaaS (and the various iterations of hosted solutions), Cloud in general and then we sneak in company names that could mean something else.   It took me a good few minutes in a meeting to establish that Pink Elephant was a company and not a new expression.
I have been suitably amazed by the fact that there are specific buzzwords that catch the attention of recruiters - apparently being able to conceptualise is a good one to throw in at some point.
We do it at Accsys, too.   Our internal business management report is the BFA, standing for Budget Forecast Actual.   I understand that there are some other interpretations, though…
My view is that many meetings are conducted in such a way that at least one person is scrabbling to understand what everybody else is saying as they sound like they are talking in code.
This means they are trying to convert the code in their heads, not actively participating and therefore wasting their time and yours.
Whenever there are new people at a meeting, I believe you should take the time to think about the conversational shortcuts you are taking, and use “longhand” words instead.  In the end, it will save you both time and money, not to mention new recruit frustration and disengagement.

Links, References and Notes

Management professor Robert Kreitner, "Buzzwords are the literary equivalent of Gresham's Law. They will drive out good ideas."[6]
@TerylSchroenn - twitter


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