Seattle, WA – A recent study by The Society for Human Resources Management found companies are losing upwards of $30 billion annually to corporate-buzzword-based-confusion. Recruiter Chase Stevens, who last month admitted the majority of job descriptions are meaningless, says companies are beginning to realize negative gains resulting from buzzword over-saturation.
“The use of buzzwords is very similar to the issue I raised with job descriptions,” said Mr. Stevens late Friday afternoon. “They create the illusion of value when none really exists.” More importantly, buzzwords cause confusion and often dilute the message from senior leadership. And, the corporate world is infested with meaningless words and phrases designed to overcomplicate simple thoughts and ideas.
“Suppose I said, we need to increase the strength of our character-chain,” said Mr. Stevens. “What does that tell you? It means we need to focus on hiring good people.” So why not simply say, we need to hire good people?
“That’s exactly the point,” continued Mr. Stevens. “Beyond the fact that hiring good people should be an obvious goal of every company, referring to the process as strengthening the organization’s ‘character-chain’, makes the concept sound more profound than it actually is.”
Buzzwords also make employees feel as though they’ve come away with important insight when in actuality they’ve only cluttered their minds with more useless jargon. In worst case scenarios, some companies find their employees have actually forgotten how to think simply. They are actually incapable of not overcomplicating simple concepts.
Complicated thought processes result in complicated programs, which end up costing companies billions of dollars. And it all begins with corporate buzzwords.
IBM’s commercial, utilizing corporate buzzwords is not far from reality (nor is the executive’s reaction).
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A five year veteran of Starbucks corporate headquarters, Lia Drew, says her office is bogged down in buzzwords. “Sometimes I wonder if my manager and senior leadership actually know what they’re talking about, or if they’re just talking out their ass,” she said in an interview after work Friday afternoon.
“They talk about leveraging our cross-organizational communication platform and decreasing siloization across the company, but nothing ever actually gets done.” It’s no wonder nothing gets done. How can a company expect to increase communication between departments, when their message to the point is nearly incomprehensible?
Ms. Drew’s frustration with mindless vocabulary is not isolated. Millions of corporate employees face a barrage of buzzwords on a daily basis.
“It starts at the top,” said Mr. Stevens. “Executives set the tone in a company by using buzzwords and their managers follow suit. The practice trickles down to individual contributors, and soon you have a self-enforcing culture of buzzword-based business.”
The troubling reality of buzzword over-saturation is that buzzwords disguise a lack of content. There is no true value behind the words, yet hundreds of thousands of managers base critical business decisions on buzzword-filled speeches from executives, believing they’ve actually heard something valuable.
Perhaps the value-lacking nature of buzzwords is why a group of actors were able to successfully run investor conference calls. Nonetheless, buzzwords are here to stay.
“I’m not sure what bothers me more,” said Ms. Drew. “Management’s annoying drivel of buzzwords, or the fact that I know what most of them mean.”