Buzzword Bingo

Buzzwords. You have a love / hate relationship with them too, right? If you say these words in front of the right audience, you gain creditability, and if you say them in front of a different audience, you are pandering and are quickly (and loudly) called out. Each year there is a new list of buzzwords that are “in” and like a bad pop song, they are repeated by everyone you know and cross networking circles while simultaneously being shouted from the rooftops by a morning show news anchor.

Yes, it is painful. I have inflicted this pain on others and have also been a victim. Buzzwords hurt, but they do help the uninitiated. Buzzwords are like a folk tale used to explain the unexplainable. We know these tales are not true, but they help us reason. Buzzwords are the sizzle of the story and often ambiguous, but when used in the right context, buzzwords can open the door to new questions and deeper conversation about the subject. The buzzword is part of the compelling hook.

I could roll my eyes at all of the mentions of “social business” and argue, like others that the topic is really change management. It wasn’t too long ago all of us were rolling our eyes when our bosses brought in a copy of Business Week to show us the latest article on this fad called, “social media.” Buzzwords are an entry point. And I will take whatever entry point I can find. It is there I can start to ask questions and build foundational elements that bring life to the organization’s mission and values. Buzzwords pave the way for policy and process. It is up to you to fill in the gaps and hold the story together.

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