A trawl through the corporate landscape of 2018 throws up drama and despair, much of it around the uncertainty of Brexit, writes John Daly
In tandem with the headlines, however, a traditional aspect of business life, corporate slang, thrived over the past 12 months.
Whether you ‘opened the kimono to drink the Kool-Aid’, or were forced to ‘paradigm core competencies in a new swim lane’, you’ll doubtless have spent more than one occasion trying to decipher and make sense of the latest commercial vernacular.
As always, we have much to thank our North American brethren for these illuminating additions to the Irish business lexicon.
But we are fast-becoming adept at adding our own pages to the ever-expanding bible of modern office-speak.
In this era of constant change, it’s little wonder that ‘game changer’ and ‘disruptor’ emerged as slang front-runners over the year.
First cousins in their pole positions as influencers or leaders in a chosen field, they reigned supreme for ‘outside the box’ thinking.
With competition ever more intense in this always-on, 24-7 world, ‘incentivising your tribe’ became a key corporate aspiration, moving the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach from the 1990s into a more contemporary angle.
In a rising economy, with the urge to go it alone, through a variety of start-up models, becoming the norm, we welcomed ‘mumpreneur’, ‘seniorpreneur’, ‘photopreneur’, and ‘hairpreneur’”.
In fact, any ‘preneur’ you care to mention was welcomed into the corporate fold.
Closely related to this new commercial clan were ‘ninja’ and ‘guru’, both nouns acclaiming their individual specialities: ‘She’s an absolute ninja at spreadsheet presentations.’
Ideas equating weight loss with accomplishment abounded in the corporate jungle, particularly the use of ‘lean’ as the definition of a business model of frugality and focus.
It also became a rallying cry to bring a project in under budget: “This one will go down to the wire, so let’s all keep it lean, okay?”
The notion that business was a ‘journey’, a commercial Camino, if you like, also added its inclusions to the year’s slang: ‘This is a detour for our brand, but we’re all still on the same journey.’
Naturally, any such trip, trek, or expedition will require a ‘roadmap’, and particularly on those unexpected occasions where speedy exits from a ‘burning platform’ are required.
Much office slang is instructional, so when you’re told, ‘Let’s capture this’, it simply means to take notes.
Mind you, sometimes you may need ‘to drill down deeper’, if there’s no obvious ‘low-hanging fruit’ to pick.
In effect, further analysis of that market is needed, as there’s no easy alternative.
“If you can’t remember when was the last time people at your business meeting or important event were riveted to what was being said, you’re probably not alone,” says Karen Friedman, author of Shut Up and Say Something: Business Communication Strategies to Overcome Challenges and Influence Listeners.
The inclination toward vagueness or ‘slangspeak’ is as confusing as it can be misleading: “It is absolutely critical to be as direct, to the point, and concise as possible.”
Brian Fugere, author of Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, makes a similar point.
“Every day, we get bombarded by an endless stream of filtered, antiseptic, jargon-filled corporate speak, all of which makes it harder to get heard, harder to be authentic, and definitely harder to have fun,” he says.
Perhaps, in the end, we would all be better ‘taking it offline’ in a ‘come to Jesus meeting’.
And I’ll let you figure out that one by yourselves.