We’re back with another episode of Jargon Watch, Tendo’s guide to targeting and eliminating unhelpful idioms and/or finding the perfect word to sharpen communication. Keeping our ears perked and our eyes peeled for communication that’s opaque, lazy, cliché, or obstructive is one of our favorite pastimes, so we hope you enjoy this collection.
Definition: An intense group discussion, the point of which is to assign blame for a failure.
Word in the Wild: “When we are faced with problems, we tend to analyze them and once we start doing that, we naturally slide into blamestorming.” (Oxford Dictionary)
Our 2 cents: This is a cutesy word for a nasty activity. The focus is on finding a scapegoat instead of solving a problem or finding ways to avoid future problems. We suggest not only nixing this word from the lexicon, but fostering a healthier environment where the concept itself is unlikely to occur.
Definition: To discuss something without limits, where every idea is welcome.
Word in the Wild: “‘Blue-skying is not the way we spend our time in our organization,’ Bond elaborates. ‘This comes out of our history. Nobody could have blue-skied that we would lose 32 branches in China on October 1, 1949.’” (Maximum Leadership by Charles Farkas, Philippe de Backer)
Our 2 cents: It’s easy to go from blue sky to blamestorm in a matter of minutes. Also, for being “blue sky” this phrase isn’t very clear.
Double down (verb)
Definition: Used in blackjack, the term means to double your bet while taking one more card; i.e. a risky bet.
Word in the Wild: “Companies are better served when they double down on cultivating in-house talent instead.” (Wired, July 2016)
Our 2 cents: In the business and marketing world, “double down” is used to mean “redouble efforts” to overcome a challenge, rather than taking on a risky venture. Better to use a phrase that avoids conflated definitions.
Throw it over the wall/fence (verb)
Definition: To shift risk and responsibility to another party.
Word in the Wild: “We’ll get the new design finished by noon so that we can throw it over the wall to the brand police.” (NetLingo)
Our 2 cents: This phrase connotes a lack of communication between groups. The phrase initially referred to letting products loose without enough guidance on how to use them. Today it includes passing along any project to the next group when one group is finished with it. It usually has an “out of sight, out of mind” feel to it. Best to avoid it: Communication that promotes connectivity between groups is not only smart, it’s just plain nice.
Definition: A market where a business caters to a specific group of people within an industry.
Word in the Wild: “Egnyte experienced significant traction with the construction vertical.” (Forbes, August 2014)
Our 2 cents: Another muddy piece of business lingo. It’s sometimes used to mean a niche market, but it can also refer to the general markets that a business can sell its services to. We recommend selecting more specific language.
Developing effective communication can feel like a battle, but we like the challenge. Be mindful about communication, keep the audience in mind, and be willing to take a little extra time in the interest of clarity, accuracy, and authenticity. That’s what we’re aiming for, anyway.