“What are our learnings?” inquired John G. and raised an ironic eyebrow. “We have clarity on what we need to operationalize. We need to own this space,” said John C. and snorted. “Without execution we have nothing to leverage, ” he continued, wryly. The others at Tom and Mike’s famous Wednesday night dinner joined in. There was talk of added value, drivers, synergy, buckets, parking lots, modalities, and optimization. We discussed what would be impacted, injected, energized and grown and of the need to be flexible, adaptive and, inevitably, innovative. We might have to downsize and let people go. There was a risk that our initiatives could not be monetized, unless we reached out, partnered and integrated. We work for different organizations in many different industries and across at least three sectors but all of us are beset by this dreadful abuse of language.
Office talk is ugly and means almost nothing. I am pretty sure many of these words first
appeared on powerpoint slides, created or deployed to save characters and suggest busy self-importance. Once, these bullet-point banalities may have had a supporting narrative but now they roam our corridors and congregate by our water coolers, an independent cluster of vowels and consonants posing as big ideas and calls to action. Unfettered, they rampage through every enterprise, muffling good sense in meetings and protecting against plain speaking and hard work.
What are the phrases that haunt you this strategic planning season? Can you get through your presentation without promising thought-leadership or plundering low-hanging fruit? How will you enhance visibility and build relationships? Do share.