Jargon Watch: 2015 Edition
Has your coworker ever stopped a long meeting so the attendees could take a “bio break?” Offered to run something “up the flagpole?” Encouraged you to seize the “low-hanging fruit?” If so, you’re not alone. We hear those bits of jargon all the time—and although it’s painful to admit, we’re guilty of spouting them off, too. In our ongoing quest to abolish meaningless jargon and encourage clear communication (e.g., getting back to brass tacks), we bring you another edition of Jargon Watch.
Actionate, actioning (verb)
Definition: Working on a task. For example, “I’m actioning on my deliverable.”
Our 2 cents: Not to be confused with actionable, which we tried to ban a number of years ago. We frequently ignore suggestions from the Microsoft Word spell checker, but in this case, Bill & Co. are right to question us. No, Microsoft Word, we don’t mean “auctioning,” and we’re glad this word isn’t in your dictionary.
Definition: Request. For example, “what’s her ask?”
Our 2 cents: When we’re not busy turning nouns into verbs (see also: productizing), we turn verbs into nouns. This usage is common in the business and consulting word, despite the fact that it irritates grammarians. On the plus side, the question does encourage clarity and a response that gets to the point—two things we applaud.
Baked in (adjective)
Definition: Included, often in reference to software or hardware functionality. For example, “Those features are baked in with this new model.”
Our 2 cents: This feels like a dirty trick—conjuring up baked goods or some other tasty baked item when our immediate future probably includes more meetings and fewer treats. Side note: The first thing a Google search on “baked in” yields is a blog, www.baked-in.com, with vegetarian and vegan recipes. And the page title is “Peel Back the Onion. Grab the Low-Hanging Fruit. Drink From the Firehose.” Is the blogger a jargon fan? Or is her goal in life to turn jargon researchers into vegetarians? It’s something to ponder.
Definition: Bite-sized, digestible information that’s easy to share. For example, “snackable content.”
Our 2 cents: See baked in, above.
Definition: Solve. As in, “we’re going to solution for this.”
Our 2 cents: This joins the family of nouns morphing into verbs, à la “grow your business.” We fear grow your business is here to stay, but we’re going to solution ways to keep this one from gaining popularity.
Definition: The top definition of this portmanteau on Urban Dictionary is “a combination of strategic and tactical concepts in which a core long-term strategic plan is the base, but based on the current environment, tactical changes can be made to enhance the overall performance.”
Our 2 cents: Huh? Let’s just agree to say what we mean and avoid combining words to make everything fuzzier. Or in the words of a lower-tier Urban Dictionary definition of stratactical: “Should be a key part in the world of Dilbert.”
In the corporate world, bits of jargon are as common as office colds and break-room doughnuts. What else would you add to the list?