Do your leadership messages ever resemble this?
By driving the hyperconvergence of our scalable strategies and core competencies, we will leverage the synergistic efficiencies vis-à-vis the marketing matrix to empower the productive potential of the paradigm shift.
Far too many corporate leaders speak and write in dialects of Corporate Jargon. Even worse, some communications leaders let them do it.
After delivering a message like this, they assume the stunned silence is reverence and appreciation of their brilliance and vision. In reality, employees are thinking, “What does that mean?” while using more earthy terminology. The trouble is, most will be afraid to actually ask the question. They don’t want to look stupid.
I’ll confess that the message above is a parody created by my wife in response to a Facebook rant on the word “synergy.” But, it’s not far from the mission statement of a real company I recently spotted:
By leveraging a strategic blend of our experience, automation technology, data analytic solutions and growth opportunities, we are poised to continue paving the way in industry innovation now and well into the future.*
I would wonder if they used Dilbert’s Mission Statement Generator, except author Scott Adams shut it down in 2008. Perhaps his mission statement cartoons inspired them, or maybe someone found this worthy alternative mission statement generator from ComfyChair to ideate their slam-dunk no-brainer messages.
While I am not a linguist or a student of etymology, I am suspicious that Corporate Jargon may have emerged from business schools. It is unlikely that phrases such as “paradigm shifting” or “re-visioning the supply chain ecosystem” could have emerged without overwrought students desperately trying to fill five pages for their mid-term case studies.
It’s tough to let go of Corporate Jargon. Occasionally, one of these well-worn Buzzword Bingo phrases is just right for the moment. That’s especially true if you are trying to lighten the mood with some sarcasm during that 30-minute meeting that’s turned into a half-day slog:
• Let’s level set
• Pivot this discussion
• Hitting on all cylinders
• Bubble that up to the board
• Ideate that concept
• Conduct a wing-to-wing analysis
• Take a 30,000-foot view
• Get on/off the glide path to success/failure/whatever
But before you give in to the temptation to wander too far into the jargon jungle, ask yourself how you would explain the idea to a ten-year old or your 87-year-old grandmother.
Know what you are saying and communicate it clearly.
It helps you, your business leader and your business.
I realize that one of the hardest things for a corporate communications leader to do is edit their boss. Whether it’s the CEO, COO, CIO, CFO or an of those other C’s, many of them hate being edited.
When you find yourself in that spot, ask your boss to consider this: two of the most effective business communicators of the past 40 years—Warren Buffett and Jack Welch—have been ruthless editors.
They both understood that clear works better than clever. Two words are better than ten. Big words don’t make you look smarter.
Clarity shows respect for your audience and confidence in your ideas.
It’s a slam-dunk no-brainer.
*Some words changed to protect the guilty.
Photo: Power forward Spencer Jones dunking for Bishop Miege High School.