Polly LaBarre, co-author of the hot-selling and widely praised Mavericks at Work, was kind enough to stop by Stanford yesterday and teach a session of my class. The class is called Organizational Behavior: An Evidence-Based Approach, and has about 90 students who take the class "live" and another 60 or so who "attend" the class from companies like Google, HP, Cisco, watching it on video.
Polly displayed remarkable energy, especially given that it was her third talk of the day. One of the points that she made especially well was that mavericks are so effective at inspiring innovation partly because they use authentic and compelling language, not hollow business language. She pointed out that, in too many cases, the language used by executives in one company is completely interchangeable with the language used by another; and hollow and meaningless in every place it used. The class just cracked-up when she called this "Jargon monoxide." Now that is great language!
Some of the worst "jargon monoxide" I can think of includes "value added," "competitive advantage," "distinctive competence," and "monetize." I suspect that each of you have your least favorite phrases. Of course, this is a subject that lots of people have written about, but Polly's phrase just cracked me up. Check out The Office Life and hese "bullfighter tips."
P.S. Also check out the Maverick's blog