Bizspeak I Don’t Care For #1

Hopefully, the first of many posts on this subject. In honor of my Grandmother–who, when as a child at the Sunday dinner table I would say I “hate” something, would respond, Sam, say ‘I don’t care for’ instead. Here is a sampling of the corporate speak designed to obfuscate the issue at hand that I hear nearly every day.


ROI– Return on Investment. Basically, if a company implements any product, service, or practice that has a fixed cost, and then something is gained, then that is de facto an ROI. In economics, this is a descriptive mechanism for measuring the health of an investment … If I buy a one dollar bill for two dollars, and then spend my one dollar, the result is a 50% ROI, I gained half as much as I put into the investment.Which is to say, I made a horrific investment …

But in IT marketing … In IT marketing the percentage of the ROI is never mentioned (This example and this example are two random instances of how ROI is speciously used in the IT market). Immediate ROI sounds great, but all it really means is that there will be a return on the initial investment. If I’m not mistaken, ALL INVESTMENTS ENTAIL SOME RETURN. You put $200 dollars on 23 black and the minute that roulette wheel stops spinnin’ you get an immediate ROI, one way or the other.


Circle Back– The analogies bandied about in corporations are endless. Evidently, according to “circle back”, Corporate America has devolved into a bunch of condors (or, if you are less optimistic, vultures). Circle back is used when one party promises to “touch base” or “grab face-time” with another party. Of course, this promise is not in any way to be understood as contractually binding.

Actually, the purpose of this seemingly benign phrase is more insidious than it appears. The translation for this malicious piece of bizpeak is “I’m going to cut you out of the loop for a while, do some stuff without your knowledge and consent, go forward with some plans you won’t be part of, and , if I feel like it later, I might talk to you later. If I feel like it.”

Now, granted, the phrase is not always malicious (e.g., “I’m going to go try that coffee and circle back with you.”), but often it is employed to detach one person from a project, decision, or set of circumstances that are critical priorities (e.g., “Yeah, about that report you and I worked on, you stay there and I am going to go present it to the powers that be. No, no, don’t worry, I’ll give you due credit. I’ll circle back and let you know what they thought of the report I put together all by myself. I’ll circle back after I’ve stolen your credit, dessicated your corporate carcass, and returned to perch on your picked-clean limbs. You wait there, I’ll circle back.”

I propose we change “I’ll circle back…” to “I’ll punch you as hard as I can in the face, and then later I’ll come back and explain to you what you looked like when I did it.”


Ping– It means to send an email, as in “I’ll ping Chad later.” What is wrong with “I am going to Contact/Reach/Check-in with/Call/Phone/Email/ Talk to/Chat with/Catch/Look up/Get in touch with/Drop in on” or any of the other prepositional verbs we use to intend communication? Three successive questions about this: A) Do we really need an onomatopoeic word to describe the act of emailing, B) Doesn’t “buzz” already do this , and how annoying (and potentially confusing) is it to hear “I’ll give him a buzz.” C) If we are going to use a onomatopoeic word, why not just make the sound effect?

Dude 1: “Lastly, we need to brainstorm why Q1 saw such a decrease in ROI after predictions of robust user retention.”

Dude 2: “Hmmm, that sounds like a good question for Tim in Data Analysis. I’ll take the to-do and BEEP BEEP him later.”

Dude 1: “Right. Thanks for volunteering. Be sure that when you ZAGA ZAGA him, he understands we want the click-through rates of the items, not just unique visitor counts.”

Dude 3: “Actually, I think Tim is at the Telephony convention in Scottsdale. It might be hard to WOMPA WOMPA him today.”

Dude 2: “Okay, I’ll VUMP VUMP him later.”


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