I have always been interested in how language is used and how it shapes reality*. On a whim, I decided to create a list of common words or phrases you might hear around the technical side of a business, and survey people on which words are meaningless, which are actually useful, and which are both.
Of course this is not a scientific survey. I sent it out over Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and over Appirio’s internal Chatter, so the respondents probably have certain biases. I only had 27 responses, which indicates the shocking revelation that out of the hundreds of people in my work-related social networks, not all of them are interested in taking surveys. Also, my list of words were basically just a quick list of ones that came to mind, there are probably some good ones I missed.
On to the results! Basically, all the “Meaningless Buzzword” responses I gave 0 points, all the “Both” answers 10, and the “Useful Concept” answers got 20. I then took the mean score for each concept, ranked them 1-26, and graded on a curve. I told you this was unscientific.
The Meaningless Buzzwords.
|Web 2.0 (or 3.0)||2.31|
I have to agree with the respondents on this one, all these are pretty vile terms. The nearly unanimous rage at Web 2.0 (or 3.0) was noteworthy. I was pleased to see Rockstar on the list, mainly because I think it is a pretty bad metaphor for a “great employee”. Have you ever met a real Rockstar? Believe me, you would not want them working with you.
Both Meaningless Buzzwords AND Useful Concepts.
|Outside the box thinking||8.52|
|The Social Enterprise||9.26|
|First Mover Advantage||10.00|
Looking at this list, it seems like a pretty decent representation of phrases that are useful depending on the context in which they are used. Personally, the one I hate the most is “Outside the box thinking.” It’s my opinion that thinking unconventional thoughts as an end in itself is useless until the conventional thoughts have been tried. Diversity is another interesting phrase, one that in the span of my work life has evolved from a meaningless phrase that vaguely meant “a nice place to work” to an actual business strategy which creates better results. And I must admit a love for the phrase “Stickiness” (forgive me), after I read Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.
And Finally…The Useful Concepts
Given the audience, I was not surprised to see Cloud Computing on the list, but I was a bit surprised that Scalability was the big winner. Brainstorming, in my opinion, is over-rated in usefulness, and I am not even sure what Consumer-Driven means, but as a consumer it seems kind of nice. I love Agile (with a capital “A”), and I think the Elevator Pitch, which seems Buzz-wordy, is actually a useful thing in helping employees understand the core of the business (core competency?) and state it succinctly.
So this concludes my fun little experiment. Now back to giving my clients some value-add by leveraging my core competencies.
* I have a degree in Communication Theory, for goodness sakes. Of course that major was discontinued, perhaps having been recognized as a meaningless buzzword.