It is time for my annual tribute to college basketball's March Madness with my own anti-tribute to bad business buzzwords. Each year, I've called out the most annoying of the annoying and have even given special attention to things as strange as "the side hustle."
For better or for worse, we now live in a world where exaggeration has become a strangely mainstream thing. Events, people, and companies who are, with all due respect, actually pretty darn good are often hyperbole ridden to almost surreal levels, often characterized as "brilliant" or even "mind-blowing."
Where does that leave the tiny percent of those people or companies who are truly remarkable or amazing? Potentially, it leaves them lost in the shuffle unless we can create even bigger ways to differentiate them.
Maybe that's why the trend of hyperbole seems to have also penetrated our bad business buzzword vernacular.
I remember the good old days when we used to just annoy each other with "thinking outside the box" or "touching base" about "low hanging fruit", but those don't really seem all that amazing anymore. Now we are using bad business buzzwords that evoke expectations of mass hugeness.
In tribute to the over-exaggerated, nonsensical business buzzwords of the day, here are my Final Four for this year. Hopefully, they'll shine really, really brightly for just a little while and then burn themselves out bringing us back to the bad business buzzwords we used to love to hate in a simpler time without hyperbole.
One Unexpected Tournament Dark Horse Buzzword, and One Under-Performing Buzzword
Before I unveil the most highly anticipated bad business buzzwords in the history of bad business buzzwords, here are two others worth color commentary:
Biggest Under-Performer: "Big Data"
We've been talking about Big Data for awhile now. It's definitely big, but is calling it Big Data big enough for our super-sized hyperbole ridden business buzzwords tournament for this year?
Unfortunately, Big Data may have had the goods to make a Final Four run a year or two ago, but this year they fell short and only made it to my Elite Eight. They are going to have to significantly re-tool and become "Massive Data" or "Utterly Gigantic Data" if they want to really compete.
This Year's Tournament Dark Horse: "Double Penetrate"
There used to be this "double-clicking down" phenomena. If I thought that was bad, I recently came across someone who was actively "double penetrating" a power point presentation slide.
On the surface and at many levels below the surface, there are a significant number of things very wrong with this expression beyond the fact that I have no idea what it means. But because of its pure ridiculous boldness and audacity, it made a dark horse run in this year's Bad Buzzword March Madness all the way to the Elite Eight.
The Most Amazing Final Four in Buzzword History
Without further delay, here are the Final Four. They are all so amazing that I couldn't possibly predict the tournament winner.
1. Game changer
These days, it seems as though everyone is a game changer - so much so that I can't keep track of what game we're even playing anymore. Then again, maybe some of our game changers aren't really game changers after all.
I propose that we call the rest of them something like "game tweakers." We can't all be game changers. If I remember my statistics, that would mean that we'd all regress to the mean, and none of us would be game changers. We wouldn't want that to happen.
2. Rock Star
About the most exaggerated people we have these days are rock stars. They have exaggerated hair, exaggerated clothes, really exaggerated life-styles. Sure, why not start calling great employees rock stars? The only thing better is to call them "Total Rock Stars."
3. Future Proof
I'm not a futurist, but the one thing I do know is that the only thing that guarantees something is future proof is a time machine. And if watching the movie, Back to the Future, too many times has taught me anything, having a time machine doesn't guarantee anything either. It might be time to drop this exaggerated expression that leads us to believe that we can actually do it.
4. Giving 110%
I will admit that I never did very well at math, but I do believe that giving 110% is physically impossible. Maybe in our new world of social media exaggeration, we've found a way to violate the laws of physics and actually give 110%.
If we've really done this totally groundbreaking thing, I'm going to have to start asking people who work for me to give 120% and place people who give a mere 100% on a performance improvement plan. I just can't have slackers who only give me everything that is physically possible. I've got a business to run.
I can only hope that this article made you laugh harder than you have ever laughed at anything in your entire life. I'll be back with a less exaggerated article next week that has actual real business value.
Enjoy the real March Madness tournament (the one with the college basketball players).