Those Business Buzzwords – Useful or Irritating?

Business, buzzwords, communicationIs there a business term that just grates on your nerves? Or is it when someone strings a few together and you realize that he/she has actually said nothing? For many of us, business buzzwords trigger this internal dialogue (although some of us are bold enough to say it out loud) that asks if the person is even speaking the common tongue so we can all know what he/she means.

Some buzzwords you probably wish you could forget

There are some ones that should probably be forgotten but haven’t been such as “low hanging fruit”, “circling back”, “put a pin in it” or “out of the box.” There are more. If you do business in the US, you’ve probably heard many of the common sporting references or analogies since these are common in American business language.

But what’s the current lingo?

Well, don’t worry because all of the old ones are remaining in circulation but there are some new ones to add to your list. Here are a few examples:

  • Innovative
  • Showrooming
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Contextual analytics
  • Digital native
  • B2B
  • Stickiness
  • Crowdfunding

There are more and Business News Daily has an interesting list of more buzzwords you may know and hear overused.

When does a word or term outlive it usefulness and cross over into white noise?

We hear certain business words or terms in many conversations and some of them fit the situation .Judith Shulevitz in her post on the New Republic declares that “disruptive” is no longer as meaningful or pertinent as it was. Her point is that “disruptive” is overused and too generalized at this point to really identify what is, well, disruptive to the status quo. She doesn’t say that certain things are not or cannot be disruptive but that everything that is counter-cultural, defiant or bold is termed disruptive. And she blames Clayton Christensen (worth reading her post to see how this fits) for not reining in everyone who started labeling all kinds of stuff as disruptive.

Creating a language of separation

Before you think you’re hip or cutting-edge (oh dear, is that one too?), are we creating a separate language or a way to shut others out? One thing to look at with buzzwords is that they are often idioms or encapsulated concepts. Many of us work in multi-cultural settings where there many be speakers of other languages. They may or may not be able apply critical thinking to your statements if they are spending the time trying to define what you are saying. Using buzzwords can reinforce a “class-system” that the in-crowd know what is being said but you are an outsider or, worse, nobody. There are power plays that contain a sycophantic or obstructive dynamic.

Buzzwords can be use for good or ill

When they are used for good, they become vocabulary that describes a common experience, a wished-for state or illustrating a concept. There is often the feeling of pressure in the work environment because the pace of business is often faster than the pace of any other facet of our lives. It is as if we can communicate with fewer words, we are getting our ideas or our opinions out more efficiently.

On the other hand, buzzwords can dumb down our messages and make us aim for soundbites rather than a well-thought out statement. They can obfuscate and interfere with developing trustworthy business relationships. This may foster a political (and likely dysfuntional) workplace in which people jockey for position or special treatment. It may even trigger investors to dismiss our venture because they think we don’t have anything different, marketable or worth their time and money.

Join us as we discuss buzzwords and how they are used in business on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz this Friday, August 23rd at 5pm GMT/ 12pm ET / 9am PT.

What are the most current buzz words you have heard overused lately?

For our global members, what buzzwords do you hear in the your workplace?

Which of the current buzzwords do you find are overused?

When does using a buzzword help continue or illuminate the discussion in the workplace?

How do people use buzzwords in the context of power dynamics in a group setting?

 About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.




Is It Feminine Leadership We Crave Or Just Less Ego-Driven Leadership?

men, women, leadership, businessSince the Great Recession, there has been this conversation about male versus female leadership. A great many people have said that it wouldn’t have happened if there were more women leaders in business and politics. Now the conversation is being framed in terms of female and male traits and which ones are more desirable in the current environment. One of the voices in this conversation is John Gerzema, who has co-authored a book with Michael D’Antonio, The Athena Doctrine; How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the World, which details their global research about how traditionally feminine leadership and values are now more popular than the macho paradigm of the past. They surveyed 64,000 people around the world who responded with a message that leaders who exhibited feminine traits were more desired and needed.

Backlash against men and/or male traits.

It does get oversimplified but the conversation typically demonizes men as leaders and expresses a wish that more women were in leadership roles. Interestingly,  many of the leadership theories that have emerged since the 1970’s and current research suggests that the most effective leadership styles incorporate emotional intelligence and many of the “”feminine” traits identified in The Athena Doctrine. In the comment sections of blog posts like HBR’s ” ‘Feminine’ Values Can Give Tomorrow’s Leaders an Edge”, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In or women leadership, you see tension present between the cultural norms that encourage the traditional male-female roles and the emergence of a more androgynous model.

It’s easy to get sidetracked into attacking the other

Given that social roles are changing and the Great Recession has such far reaching consequences, it is easy to get lost in feeling oppressed. It is quite likely that the Great Recession will have far reaching sociological implications and there isn’t a road map to show us how to create equitable opportunities for everyone. The way things change in Chile are not going to be the same as the way they change in Korea. But…global research points to leadership and business success being dependent on men and women leaders developing certain traits to respond to current conditions.

There are real leadership failures and lessons must be learned

There are examples of bad leadership all over the world that led to scandals and financial ruin. The Anglo tapes in Ireland provide an excellent example of “masculine” leadership traits gone wild but they aren’t the only ones. The challenge will be looking for ways to have conversations that avoid polarization, gender wars and encourage learning what traits will work in a given situation. As we look at how leadership styles have morphed over the years, we see that some of the desired traits haven’t changed at all. It may be that we don’t have the words to describe how leadership has to evolve with the times. It may even be less and less about gender at all.

What makes cooperation/collaboration, empathy, vulnerability, flexibility and/or patience much more desirable in current & future leadership?

How is language complicating the discussion about which leadership traits will be most effective in the future?

How are we blinding ourselves by posing leadership skills as male or female?

Are we setting up more dichotomies that polarise the discussion about leadership? Why or why not?

How do discussions of leadership actually illuminate male and female identities?

At what pace do you see business adopting and adapting to leaders with “feminine” traits?

 About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.


Email is not dead, is it?

There is a lot of discussion about email. There are those who are saying that no one emails anymore. There have been announcements that email is dead over the last few years. Yet, while there are pronouncements that email is dead, there is still many posts explaining how to use email more effectively. But email seems to be more vibrant than that.

Memos and notes

At its most basic, email is a way of disseminating information. It might be the company-wide memo announcing changes in policies. It might be that “let’s get reconnected” email you send out to a business colleague you haven’t spoken to in months. And while you, as a user, might be more prone to texting or messaging via a social media platform, there are a number of people around the world who still use email predominantly.

Age gap

While there are rumours that younger people (under 30) are texting or sending private messages more than emailing, a recent study by The Radicati Group reports that email is still being used by people of all ages. In the business world, email is still one of the preferred communication tools so all adults in in the workplace have to use it.

It may be that more people are using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or other means of sending private messages. However, the data isn’t completely clear yet. One thing that is clear is that teenagers are not emailing as much as adults. Still, the Pew Research Research Center discovered that 73% of teenagers still email.

So email is not dead

According to the site, Email Is Not Dead, email is actively used by people all over the world. There are several factors that keep email going. One is that people subscribe to electronic newsletters so they can receive news of special offers and communications from their preferred brands. Another factor is that sometimes an idea just doesn’t fit in 140 characters. While you might not be a big fan of group emails, they are a way for people to send one message to many people.

Ongoing advantages of email

Email looks like it is going to remain one of our tools. According to Barry Gill in a sort of infographic post, email still brings a number of pluses that recommend its usage such as

  • an archival tool
  • means of communicating with collaborative group
  • enable communication across time zones
  • allows easy transmission of documents

Email doesn’t seem to be going anywhere

Email  is probably not going away in a hurry and it certainly isn’t on its deathbed. While you might wish that you got those emails from the Nigerian prince rather than someone swearing that they can improve your sexual life, email remains a good tool for conducting business and marketing plus keeping connected with co-workers and colleagues.

Join us on Friday, August 8, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT on Twitter for #KaizenBiz to look at email and how it is being used now.

How do you use email?

How effective a tool is email?

How does email help people monitor their social media platforms?

Is email changing? Why or why not?



Is Culture Orange and Bitcoin a Bad Investment?

Have you come across any interesting posts or new stories that make you stop and think? Often I find so many interesting business topics that it is hard to choose which one to focus on for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. However, this week we are going to borrow from those talk shows that move from topic to topic and see what big ideas are popping up. So, check out these stories and bring your own this Friday to the live Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am

What is culture really about?

Orange? Really? In a post on Fast Company, the focus is on Avalara which is a sales-tax assisting company. Tax compliance is certainly not the most shiny or sexy thing you could do and Scott McFarlane readily acknowledges that and sales tax? Well, for some people, it is a lot of work keeping track of the various rates in various locales around the world. According to their site, Avalara takes care of the accounting and filing.

It is certainly not some crazy cool techology or even a remarkable social idea but they found something that communicates who they are with the color orange. When all is said and done, communicating culture is about symbols. The use of certain colors, offering perks to employees (game rooms, yoga classes, monetary incentives, etc.) and corporate behavior are symbols that communicate the organizational story.

Has Bitcoin peaked?

Bitcoin is an intriguing idea. Given how much of our life is spent in the digital world, it seems to follow that there would be a virtual currency. There are certainly groups of people who would be interested in a form of money that could not be tracked or taxed. On the other hand, you do need real money to buy Bitcoins and then there are limited places (even the illegal ones) that will accept this virtual currency. The Atlantic has an explanation as to why you should stay away from Bitcoin altogether.

Bitcoin presents some interesting points. There are a limit of Bitcoins and there will be no more Bitcoins after 2040. Unlike most conventional currencies, Bitcoins are supposed to increase in value because there is only so much of it. According to The Atlantic, the Winkelvoss twins have filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission  “to launch an exchange-traded-fund (ETF) that would trade like a stock, and track the price of Bitcoin — and only Bitcoin.” The post goes on to point out that there are some problems with investing in Bitcoin with the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust:

  • it is a volatile currency
  • the Trust could be hacked and all your investment could disappear
  • there is illegal and undesirable activity paid for by Bitcoin (drugs and pornography) which is generally avoided by mainstream investors

There may be another issue with Bitcoin not noted in The Atlantic post and that is that Thailand declared the virtual currency illegal. It seems pretty obvious that there are plenty of questions to ask about Bitcoin and the idea of a virtual currency.

What headlines have caught your attention?

So, here is your invitation to bring an interesting blog post or news story to the chat. The culture and Bitcoin topics are just conversation starters. Join  us Friday, August 2, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we look at interesting topics from around the web.


How do companies communicate their culture?

Is it more important to communicate your culture internally or externally? Why or why not?

To what degree do customers really care about your corporate culture?



How does a virtual currency fit into the current global economy?

How valid are the concerns put forth in The Atlantic post?

What is your analysis of Bitcoin’s future performance and/or value?