The Good, The Bad, and the Buzzy

Entrepreneurship is a language unto itself and, over the years, some good -- and not so good -- buzzwords have become part of the lexicon. Check out our list and find out if jargon like "authenticity" and "core competency" are here to stay, or if we'd rather not hear them used again.
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15 Business Buzzwords We Don't Want to Hear

Actionable: A high-energy noun gone passive and flabby. Authenticity: Has become its own antonym through overuse. Best of breed: Try not thinking of springer spaniels. Brain dump: Why treat creativity like construction waste? Co-opetition: Business doesn't need a version of frenemy. Disintermediate: Has the same number of syllables as "cut out the middleman" with none of the clarity. Incentivize: First, it's not a word. Second, what's wrong with motivate? Mindshare: Our psyches are not Florida condos. Offline: Annoying in meetings ("Let's take this offline"). We're already offline! We're surrounded by human beings! Outside the box: A cliché about not thinking in clichés. Proactive: Ugly corporate-ese, but without a decent synonym. Anyone? Repurpose: You are recycling. Just say so. Solution: A shame, what has happened to this word. Synergy: This bastard child of synthesis and energy is godfather to every enigmatically named tech company. Value-add: Devalues the concept of value. Talk shouldn't be quite this cheap.

15 Business Buzzwords We Like

Angel: What better metaphor for the answer to an entrepreneur's prayers? Bandwidth: The rare tech term that translates to human beings. Big Hairy Audacious Goal: Humor makes the phrase memorable; hyperbole makes it motivational. Core competency: Ruthlessly focuses the leader's mind. Cube farm: Truthful but whimsical. Elevator pitch: A business drama in miniature. Empower: A little treacly, but also clear and authoritative. Frictionless: Great image for how processes should work. Just in time: Suggests not just efficiency but salvation. Killer app: Succinct, clear, intimidating. Knowledge worker: Judges employees not by the color of their collars but by the content of their brains. Learning organization: Celebrates both continuous improvement and humility. Management by walking around: Humble yet vivid. Push the envelope: A cliché we like. Must be the Right Stuff association. Stickiness: Perfectly describes content that compels users to return.

Last updated: Apr 1, 2009




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