Buzz Off: Why synergies are bad for you

Buzz WordsCorporate buzz speak is everywhere these days. Synergize this. Leverage that. And while you’re at it, you can be on point for leaving a comment!

It was incredibly refreshing for me on Wednesday morning to watch the inconceivable – a Corporate Strategy professor at the Rotman School of Management shot down the use of the word “synergy”. The ultimate consulting buzzword killed dead in its tracks – in a Corporate Strategy course no less.

But why?

Because the professor wanted students to articulate their thoughts in plain English. No more buzz words to mask what you are trying to do he implied. His point was well articulated – consultants continue to create these fancy buzzwords to find new “problems” to solve when really we are simply dealing with old problems that once had simple names.

Maybe we should all just take a step back. (Buzzword intended)

A quick post on Twitter about this situation drew widespread reaction from my followers who also shared disdain for buzzwords creeping up in their lives.

Some of the other buzzwords or misused terms my Tweeps wanted banned from their workplace include:

  • Rightsizing
  • Wordsmith
  • Orientate
  • Doing something more than 100%
  • At the end of the day
  • Leverage
  • Moving forward
  • Paradigm
  • Taking it offline

While this list is only the tip of the iceberg (barf) hopefully this makes a little bit of sense and we can all see the big picture (groan).

Let me know which buzzwords you dislike in the comments below.

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About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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9 Responses to Buzz Off: Why synergies are bad for you

  1. Indeed! Without thinking people, myself included, fall into various traps led by marketing and media tactics. Some of this I have already experienced and stepping back I see there is more influence here than I would have believed. Thanks for posting!

  2. Jana says:

    One I just came across recently was “revector”.

    • jaimestein says:

      Revector? According to Dictionary.com it doesn’t even exist. Amazing. In aerospace “vector” means to change the direction of a jet to steer the aircraft. Would revector mean to doubly change direction? So confused!?!?!

      Thanks for sharing…

  3. Heather Hertel says:

    “Moving forward” is an overused term that is used in every pitch and board meeting lately!

    • Kim Fairfield says:

      I hear it EVERYWHERE-it’s a tossup between that and “going forward”. Hell, Toyota even uses “moving forward” as its slogan, to which I add “whether you want to or not” 😉

  4. Dave says:

    As a professional communicator, I absolutely HATE when people use “utilize” when they mean “use”. The only purpose it to make something or someone sound smarter, but all it does is bog down a sentence.
    You should never utilize a confusing word when you can use a simple one instead.

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