There's an episode of 30 Rock where Jack talks about how his product integration sets a new standard in upward revenue-stream dynamics. It's word salad, but yet somehow you get the drift, don't you? It's a saddle of charred corporate buzzword garnished with a foam of pretentiousness and a coulis of self-importance. We all know someone who talks like this. Usually it's someone who makes a big deal of telling you he went to the Wharton School and that he works hard to play hard. He's also been known to pound a few Bud Heavies because he is That Guy. He's Buzzword Guy.
Every few years, I like to take stock of some of the stupidest corporate buzzwords. Wait. I say that like there are some buzzwords that aren't stupid. Ahem. Every few years I like to sit back and make fun of some of the stupidest of the stupid buzzwords out there. I try not to do it any more than that because then all this column would become is me ranting about why you can't just call someone. Why do you have to "reach out"? Are you a member of the Four Tops? Doubtful. My husband already hears me complain about people "gifting" each other, and I don't think he wants to read about it too.
- Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock’s Jack
One of my several side gigs is as a researcher. I get a lot of really interesting questions, but I've noticed recently I've gotten a lot of questions involving "industry disruption." What are disruptive trends in software as a service? Who are the top merchant services aggregator disrupters? How is the pet industry being disrupted?
I want to start every answer with, dude. First? Just because you have some innovation or some startup with a stupid name doesn't mean you're disruptive. Or, wait, maybe it does because I'm not entirely sure what it means to be disruptive anymore. I thought it meant an innovation that changes an industry. Netflix was a disrupter to the video-rental industry even though it wasn't immediately successful. Now it's being used for any new rowdy startup wanting to change the game. Uber isn't disrupting the taxi industry, according to Clayton Christensen, who coined "disruption" in 1995, and he's a mite pissed off that you youngsters are corrupting his buzzword. Get off his lawn!
I've been gnashing my teeth over "ecosystem" applied to business for a few years. It replaced "global," I think. A company can have an ecosystem when it comes to culture, but Apple has an ecosystem when it comes to devices. If you ask me to "circle back," I will. But only long enough to pop your jaw. Are you a "wantrepreneur" interested in amplifying insight-as-a-service or "recrutainment"? Well, then you totally need OTTS (over the top service) because you have to look at your ROR (return on relationship) to really max your influencer marketing.
Normal people do this crap too. It isn't just media mavens. I was talking to my very dear friend of 30 years about underwear. I bought TEN NEW PAIRS OF DRAWERS ALL AT ONCE! I was so excited. I mean, I'm in my 40s, so I've already been through the excitement of discovering a new band or finding out you won't need antibiotics for that thing. New underwear is a Very. Big. Deal. So I said to her, why is it we ever thought getting underwear was the worst gift ever? It's awesome! And she, lovely woman she is, replied with, "Who gifted you underwear?"
We were on the phone, so she couldn't see the look I was giving her, but she heard it. Oh, she heard it. She knows how I feel about being gifted. Being gifted means you can play a piece of music after hearing it only one time or that you can do long division in your head without using your fingers. Gifting makes it all about you. It takes the giver out of the equation. Plus it just sounds stupid.
Mommy bloggers in Utah are always talking about being gifted. They're usually gifted an old chair and some PVC pipe that they turn into a 16-piece "Anthro knockoff" dinner set. I'm not sure what it is ladies in Utah see in Anthropologie that the rest of the country doesn't. I mean, here in Tennessee, we love a good wacky Anthropologie cardboard deer head as much as they do in Atlanta, but dang. Utah lady bloggers devote entire websites to knocking off the "Anthro look." But I digress.
Core competency, swim lane, buy-in, deep dive, downstream, and what I might hate even more than disruption: biased algorithms. Incentivize your team! Future-proof your alpha deployment! Grow your playing field organically! Want to dialog your consumer space? Do it without me, because I have no idea what that means.