Another year draws to an end and it is time again to dissect those catchy buzzwords business people and marketers tried to make a thing.
You know the ones. Maybe a cheeky colleague used them in jest, or worse, your boss used them seriously. Either way, read them, evaluate them, and then please expunge them from your vocabulary forever.
As highlighted throughout the year by Inc. magazine contributing editor Ben Schott, these are perhaps the worst buzzwords of 2016.
Cal Newport coined the term to describe “distraction-free work.” Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, argues that digital stimuli (say, social-media notifications blowing up your phone or email piling up in your inbox) have diminished our ability to focus on whatever it is we’re supposed to be working on. So he wrote a book that shares techniques to overcome them.
The problem is that “deep work” amounts to a redundancy, kind of like “natural sunlight.” So it shouldn’t be used freely (or at all.) If you’re working, you are focused on whatever you are doing. If you’re not, then you’re not working.
John Mullins, a Forbes contributor from London Business School, declared 2016 the Year of the Unicorpse. Or the year when many companies valued at $1 billion unfortunately crashed and burned in their entrepreneurial journey.
The problem with this jazzy term is that, as with unicorns, if there are a lot of them, then the comparison to the rarest mythical creature falls flat. Some startups will fail–that’s a fact. Leave the unicorns out of it. Or will there be a boom of, as Schott cleverly states, “underfunded, undervalued startups called My Little Ponies”?
There is the internet and the intranet, and apparently now someone is trying to push “ubernet” to describe all the interconnections born out of humans’ use of social media and other digital tools.
While the need to sum up broad concepts in bite-size terms is understandable, there has to be a point at which you realize you’re just pushing it. This is one of those cases. Select and delete, please.
After The Big Short (the book by Michael Lewis that also became a movie) reached the masses, people learned about subprime mortgages and their leading role in the financial crisis of 2008. So, of course, now everyone is leery of getting anywhere near them, but they are still out there. So how do you convince people it’s OK to buy them? You re-brand them as “nonprime.” Duh.
Unless you’re working with livestock or animals in some capacity, you shouldn’t be “wrangling” anything. This term is supposed to refer to the process of discovering, sorting, cleaning, and analyzing a data set, but, you know, that’s also called research.
This term has been around since 2012, when Manfred Spitzer, a German neuroscientist, first introduced it. It is used to describe “cognitive challenges” associated with the overuse of technology. Lately, it has been used to explain children’s inability to remember things, like basic math. Then again, they had access to iPads (and calculator apps) before they could even walk, so…
“The cloud” is an abstract term used to refer to a storage space readily accessible from anywhere. And what are everywhere? Clouds. It could have been as easily called “the air,” especially since when it’s sunny there are no clouds to be seen. Anyway, with cloud traffic on the rise, apparently now there’s a need for people who can manage multiple “cloud environments,” which is fine, but there’s no need for them to call themselves anything other than that: managers.
This refers to advice prompted by a combination of “technology and human interface,” according to the Financial Times. It’s kind of like the Terminator being your life coach–except it was all machine with a human exterior, but you get it. If you really feel the need to label what type of advice you’re getting (or giving), then why not try “good” or “helpful”?
Reid Hoffman is not going to like this, but “blitzscaling” needs to go. The LinkedIn co-founder describes it as “the science and art of rapidly building out a company.” But the jargon ends up sounding vague. What’s the term for scaling “fast but not lightning fast,” and who decides which is which? Use it loosely and everything will blitzscale out of proportion. Let’s not.
Ikea’s chief sustainability officer coined the snappy jargon during a conference hosted by The Guardian. It means humans have reached the zenith of pretty much everything, and now need to rein it in. The whole notion that society has reached its peak is not new, but, please, could we switch it up a little? There are other lovely words we can use: top, height, max. If you’re set on using a flashy word, try: apex, zenith, climax, or crest.
MRB is a label that’s now applied to “marijuana-related businesses,” or every business that provides supplies or contributes to the marijuana industry without actually selling or growing the stuff. But this is probably the only industry out there with an acronym to label businesses in its industry. You don’t identify a motor manufacturer as an ARB, or “automotive-related business.” Let’s scrap it altogether.