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Dan Sickles

Thank you for writing "Core Competence" rather than "Core Competency". The *ences of this world were doing just fine before the *encys came along.


Productivity code word for layoffs and make others work harder to cover the cuts!


Awwww . . . where's "Proactive?" That's my favorite B.S. corporate jargon word.


Tacit Interaction. Coined by McKinsey back in 2005 and quickly embraced by an army of consultants in constant search of buzzwords that mean nothing. Apparently I've been out of the loop having not tripped over this phrase until now, but having done so, I was inspired to post on my blog again after an 18 month hiatus.


Proactive. To me saying you are proactive is equivalent to stating that you are doing your job in a diligent and prudent fashion. It's not used as much now perhaps, but it has always made me cringe.

Kate Brodock

A Fantastic one from the consultants at business school: Synergies. I don't think anyone who uses it knows what it means :-)




Perhaps I was too hard on core competence. And it does come from a great book where it is explained extremely well. The problem with it is that it is overused that it is worn out and, while, you understand it, I am amazed how many people don't. I guess he word "strengths" comes to mind. Back to your point, it makes me realize that sometimes the language is bad, and other times, it is simply that words and phrases have a life cycle where they go from being unknown, to cool and new, to perhaps useful, to being overused and worn-out. And then perhaps they make a come-back and the cycle repeats!

Tim Berry

I love the post, love the sentiment, enjoy seeing the bingo game and I was subscribing to everything you say here until (ouch!) I ran into "core competence." I need that one. It describes something very important. I see people getting it when I use it. Please give it back to me. Get it off of this list!

I suppose I could use "what you do best" or "key differentiator" instead, but those aren't great phrases either, and, offhand, I can't come up with anything else.

Overused perhaps, but doesn't this phrase apply to something that's a very useful concept? And is there a better way to say it?



I will go ahead and step up to defend "Critical Path" as a specific method of project planning that is very effective. CPM planning is very important to the construction industry, for example.
That's all.


And just imagine what it becomes when used by people for whom English is the third or at best second language

Working in Belgium, English is the de facto language when writing and presenting. A good test is when we have to translate in French or Dutch, sometimes very tough

I often work in France where they are proud to use French words and do the effort to use the right word for the meaning, really nice ... but sometimes impossible to understand without a dictionary, a good way to impress people who hire you (some could argue they don't understand your English BS but none will admit they don't understand their own language)

A quote to conclude: "The whole sense of the book might be summed up in the following words: what can be said at all can be said clearly, and what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence."

B Frank

"Going forward" or "moving forward" -- especially when the context has nothing to do with going or growing anywhere, as in, "Going forward we remind you that smoking is prohibited within 10 feet of the entrances."


I wish politicians would stop trying to "grow the economy".

And "impactful" is not a word. At least it wasn't...once.

Milind Datar

In the self-sustained efforts of leveraging oneself, one tends to boast about his/her “so-called” but “never existent” Core Competency just to prove that his/her presence certainly adds a lot of value to the entire Organization. I have observed this pattern closely in my very Organization…and that too professionals from critical functions at critical positions. Mind it!!! I am not talking about actual competency but about the (F)art of business language...


I'm not astonished at all that you made such a post. The use of such terms is effectively very effective in avoiding the real meaning of things

It can can quickly lead to "asshole-ry" when they are use to disguise the fact you're talking about real people as Kelley pointed in the first comment.

For me, "resource" is probably the worst business-speak word that I keep hearing day after day. It's kind of easy to say that somebody will "shift resources" or "reallocate resources" but then, you'll have to make an effort to remember that it means human beings, people with a life, with a family and that it may mean changing radically their work or moving them to a new location, sometimes in a different city/state.

It isn't surprising that using systematically "resources" (or its cousin, "FTE"), lead to really nasty comments like "I got a resource I cannot exploit" from people who are otherwise really nice and care about their subordinates, effectively turning into assholes (even if it's just for 5').

Of course, this also has a direct cost for the businesses : if a high-level exec ask its managers to implement a " loose-tight organization" and that nobody knows what it means ?
Or the use of "FTE" can lead people to think that 10 people working 50% on a project is the same asa 5 people working 100%.

I hope that you'll get some practical anecdotes about the consequences of misunderstanding business terms

PS : I admit I played bullshit-bingo quite a few time when our dear leaders were making speeches ;)

Kelley Eskridge

"Human capital management." Erk, can we make it any less personal? Otherwise we might remember we're talking about people.


Wake up call

"This unfortunate episode should serve as a wake up call to all of us."

Michael Sporer


Here is one that gets me: "At the end of the day". That is as bad as "bottom line". You will get lots of comments on this post!


Helen the Watermelon

I'd love to ban "low-hanging fruit". "Touch" or "Touches" is another that drive me crazy.

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