Bizspeak I Don’t Care For #2

If you really listen, I mean REALLY LISTEN to the tone when your corporate superiors, or inferiors, start jargonating all this bizspeak at each other, you may just hear the reason that these ordinary words have been so grossly transmutated into needless and meaningless bizspeak. The tone is one of false or prefabricated enthusiasm and, like a Rorschach inkblot test, it is up to each individual to try and tease out the meaning of this tone for his or herself.

To me, the tone says, “Look, this thing we’re talking about is complicated, and even when you get over the complications it’s still extremely boring. However, I bet by using commonplace words with made-up, generic, abstract and vapid meaning, we can make this project SEEM a whole lot simpler and a TON more fun! Whose with me?! … Look! It’s like that damn fairy in Peter Pan, the fun in this room may not be real, but if we all BELIEVE that it is, and clap our hands, and hop on one foot, we can bring it to LIFE! Don’t be such a Captain Hook!”

. A bucket, as used in bizspeak, is a generic category in any taxonomy. E.g. “Our Web content will essentially break down into three buckets. There is the New Products bucket, the News bucket, and the About bucket.”

Did I miss something? Why are buckets so popular nowadays? Anymore, the only thing corporate types want to fill is a bucket. A bucket is just a portable reservoir and, as such, is just like any other portable reservoir, so why the critical mass movement to use bucket as the end-all-be-all of classification systems? Why not basket—it’s only different by two letters. Or tasket? At least it has the word ‘task’ in it and can at least be called goal-oriented.

Wikipedia enters this proper description of a bucket:
“Buckets have been used since very ancient times, mainly for transporting water from a fountain or well into permanent reservoirs such as water holes and barrels. Buckets are also used to carry paint, sand and foodstuffs. Buckets can also be used on farms, to give feeds to animals such as horses, or to collect things such as apples.” Oh yeah, and in the corporate world bucket means something that contains anything. You know those corporate types, they like to stay as specific as possible.

Probably, the actual etymology of why bucket is a marketing/designing panacea has to do with the developer term hash bucket. As a general rule, we in the real world shouldn’t borrow anything from the coding world, since the coding world borrowed the term from the real world in the first place. This is how language inbreeding happens. And when we use inbred language, we end up looking a lot like the cast of Deliverance.

Some examples:

Sacred Cow. A legacy policy that either one person or a small group value very highly despite the fact that the policy is worthless, anachronistic, or dubious at best. E.g. Woman: “Why do we keep reams of that dot matrix printer paper around?” Man: “Who knows, it’s one of Bill’s sacred cows. Maybe he tears of the perforated parts and decorates his office with them. He’s wacky like that!”
First off, isn’t this term racist? I think there is an easy test for this. If we replaced the term with a similar term from a more western religion, would the term confuse and anger some people of that religion?

Man: “Why haven’t we upgraded these computers? They’re 7 years old!”
Woman: “Yeah, the Pentium 1’s are one of IT’s more annoying Ash Wednesday policies.”
Man: “…Huh?”

Or consider,

Woman: “Why do I have to print a hard copy of every version of this draft if it’s stored and backed up electronically?”
Man: “Good question. I tried to ask management about that very thing, but you know how they are, it’s one of their Resurrection policies.”
Woman: “What do you mean ‘Resurrection policy’?”
Man: You know, something completely illogical and asinine that used to make sense, but based on what we know now makes no sense at all.”
Woman: “What doesn’t make sense?”
Man: Well, you know, that whole die and come back to life nonsense.”
Man: “What?”

Since, in Hinduism, the cow is a protected animal, symbolizing the sanctity of life and abundance, it seems a bit shortsighted to label this belief worthless or anachronistic. So, maybe stop calling things sacred cows. Personally, I think it shows a complete lack of empathy for a culture the users of such a term don’t fully understand.


Gotcha. Any kind of commonplace problem, usually one that is technological. E.g. “When you download the Office 2007 converter, make sure you click the second link, not the first. Clicking the first has become a real gotcha.”

Gotcha is what you say when you’re seven and tag still seems like a really brilliantly constructed game. Although, to be fair, at that age wax lips and Pixie Stix ( seem like mana from heaven. Gotcha falls into the ‘bucket’ of trying to make the subject more interesting with new, fun words. Although, I’m guessing it’s less fun when your 360-degree review comes up and you don’t make your bonus because “you’ve been having a fair number of gotchas lately.”

Gotcha is also a coding term.

You can blame a lot of this coding speak turn bizspeak on Microsoft, which has so many third party suck-up companies that a whole Microsoft industry has sprang up and the language that starts in Microsoft’s coding rooms makes it quickly to America’s board rooms. I’m told that the word du jour at Microsoft is ‘crisp’. As in, that interface is crisp, make sure the report is crisp. If someone you know uses this word, give ’em a crisp smack in the back of the head.

Value-add. Something that adds value. Such as, for instance, ‘value’. E.g. “These benefit statements need to address specific value-adds of the company.”
For god’s sake, just use value.


5 responses to “Bizspeak I Don’t Care For #2

  1. I think one of my favorites has to be “deliverable”. As in, “When will those deliverables be ready?”
    “Oh, I’ll deliver them as soon as we determine the ROI on that Value-add.”
    I used to be responsible for projects, presentations, or papers, but I’d like to think that now that I’ve graduated on to business “the deliverable” trumps all these.

  2. Sam, I sincerely apologize for my lack of a comma in the preceding sentence. Damn!

  3. Next time someone asks you about the deliverables, you should respond with: “Actually, right now they’re dispossessables (or divestables) because they aren’t ready for delivery. They won’t be ready for delivery until they’re deliverable, but they won’t be deliverable until they are ready for delivery. I’ll circle back and grab some face time with you when they become qualified predeliverables.”

  4. Morning, already?

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