Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog

Wayward Words with Baggage

2009-03-04 15:24:07
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While trying to explain what Conquent does, I'm constantly running into words with baggage. These were good words once, but bad people got a hold of them and abused them, either by twisting the word into something it never was, or making the poor word work so hard it loses any meaning it had.

Topping the list is the word "Synergy." Honestly, it's the best word to describe how we put the right people and the right resources together to get a project done, but the word was used by sales people who would say it phonetically and never actually consider what it meant. This led the word into a life of shame and ridicule, to the point that if you try to introduce it into polite society, you'll be laughed at, and never invited back.

John hates the word "robust." "Robust" would have been a fine word, but it strayed from its roots in coffee and wine. "Robust management team" might mean that they've been roasted to get a full, rich flavor, but in the context of describing Conquent's approach to management, we want to say that the team has strength and vigor. "Robust" just doesn't mean anything anymore.

We can't use words like "innovative" or "solutions" (and certainly not "innovative solutions") because most people who use those words are neither innovative nor do they actually solve anything. It's not that the words are wrong, it's that we've been lied to too many times with these words and we've lost trust in them because of who they hang around with.

Tech people have started using the word "ecosystem" to describe the interrelation of hardware, software, data, people, and, well... the "ecosystem" of technology. It's probably exactly the right word, but I'm afraid that we're about to kill another good word.

We have to find other words or phrases rather than dealing with the baggage these abused words carry. In a sense, I feel that marketers and sales people who are over using good words are crippling the language. Rather like a life in pornography, the words are so pretty when they start out, but they get dirty in a dirty industry, and are never the same.

Maybe we should start a home for wayward words to help rehabilitate words and help keep other words from falling in with the wrong crowd. But, what we really need to do is get the abusers in for some therapy before they kill again.

Marketers and Sales People -- you're on notice.

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