Gut Rumbles

March 28, 2005

words I hate

I suppose that I developed my aversion to these words by working too many years in a corporate environment. I prefer plain talking to camouflage words that say one thing but mean another. Here are my top ten:

#1-- Synergy. That's supposed to mean something like two heads are better than one or that teamwork accomplishes things that individuals can't do alone. It's really just a way to paralyze everybody through endless meetings.

#2-- Diversity. That means QUOTAS, whether anybody has the balls to admit it or not. All hail DIVERSITY!!!

#3-- Change Agent. I am here to eliminate your job.

#4-- Capture. I once thought that "capturing" was something you did with a net or a trap to catch a wild animal. Not so. In corporate speak, you capture IDEAS. "We need to capture what we've learned from this monumental fuck-up." People take reams of notes, write a six-page procedure and have many meeting to discuss just what they captured. Meanwhile, the beast still runs loose.

#5--Risk. I LOVE that one. You are ENCOURAGED to take risks, to "think outside the box" and to be a bold leader. Just don't fuck up. NOBODY except a crazy bastard such as myself is willing to take a risk in the corporate world. If you do, watch out for a "change agent" coming after you.

#6--Teamwork. That's a nice way of saying, "Let's set up a system where nobody is responsible for anything and no blame can fall upon a single head." Hold a lot of meetings, "capture" ideas and accomplish nothing.

#7-- Empowerment. Yeah. You go out there like the Lone Ranger, take risks, make decisions and empower yourself. You'll get "captured" by a "change agent" pretty quickly. Corporate America lives and breathes on the principle of Cover Your Ass. Anything else they tell you is a goddam lie.

#8--Human Resource. When you hear that term, think "clock number," because that's exactly what you are. Personally, I think that politically-correct, sweet-sounding term is completely dishonest and is an insult to "employees." I was never a Human Resource. I was a worker. A "human resource" sounds to me like something you buy at Wal-Mart, add water and stir.

#9-- Leadership. I've been to so many "leadership" training classes that I can't recall them all. I don't think I ever learned a goddam thing from a single one of them. I believe that you are either a leader, or you ain't, and no amount of training will change that fact. People follow leaders that they trust and respect. You don't learn that shit in any class. Either you've got it or you don't and I believe that most good leaders are BORN to be that way.

#10--Root-Cause Analysis. I never saw a damn one of these accident investigations or "What the fuck happened?" charades that didn't boil down to finding a goat to scape. Stick the blame on someone and the problem is solved. Usually, they stuck the blame on the WRONG person and never did a damn thing about the root cause.

I did that shit for 24 years and I saw all the "new" ideas come and go. Nothing ever changed in my mind. Train your crew, enforce the rules and make them confident in following YOU. Don't promise anything you can't deliver, but deliver what you promise. Realize that you aren't working with no goddam "human resources." You're working with people and treat them that way.

Of course, I could be wrong. I was fired for doing that stuff.

(UPDATE: Some of my commenters have been there, too. I forgot "paradigm," which is a fancy corporate word for "model." But PARADIGM just sounds so much more intellectual. It ranks right up there with "value-added" or "multi-tasking" in Dilbert-speak.)


You forgot paradigm!

Posted by: Ed on March 28, 2005 12:56 PM

I am so glad I never entered the corporate world.

Posted by: rightisright on March 28, 2005 01:25 PM

Ah, Consultant-speak bingo. I love it when I get to be the first one to yell, "BULLSHIT!" and leave the room.

Posted by: Kathleen on March 28, 2005 01:43 PM

You mean Dilbert is nonfiction?

Posted by: Steve H. on March 28, 2005 02:22 PM

Actually, I disagree on one point: Leadership. You CAN learn leadership, although he right that it doesn't come in classes. It comes with maturity. When I was a young man, I sucked at leading others. In middle life, I find that I can function in a leadership role and not pee down my leg too often. Perhaps, one day, in my "Golden Years" I will be a "leader of men."


Posted by: lamontcranston on March 28, 2005 02:47 PM

Posts like that are one of the many reasons I continue to keep reading you. Crap like you're describing just keeps airhead business school graduates in jobs. One thing about the Acidman - he doesn't do bullshit.
See that other guy who delinked you the other day - he's just jealous.

Posted by: Nelly on March 28, 2005 02:49 PM

Kathleen is referring, of course, to "Bullshit BINGO."

Here's what's on my Bullshit Bingo card:
Strategic Fit
At the End of the Day
Best Practice
Bottom Line
Out of the Loop
Team (the free space!)
Outside the Box
Fast Track
Knowledge Base
Circle Up
Touch Base
Client Focus[ed]
Ball Park
Game Plan

Sit there in the meeting and mark your card as these happy phrases get trotted out - then stand up an announce "Bullshit!" when you get a row filled in!

Posted by: Elisson on March 28, 2005 03:12 PM

How about "On Board" and my personal all time favorite, "Mission Critical Application".

Posted by: rightisright on March 28, 2005 03:39 PM

What are these "Human Resources" of which you speak? Are they like Carbon Based Programming Units?

Posted by: Jim on March 28, 2005 04:46 PM

On my eval at work, there is a section for "Risk"

Risk Taking - Takes risk in trying out new ideas. Advocates for desirable changes. Persists in the face of obstacles. Seizes opportunities. Is able to take appropriate action without guidleines. Acknowledges others for responsible risk taking. Embraces discomfort for growth.

I call bullshit. My job as a medical provider is not to take risks, it is to provide competent care to my patients that maximizes the chance for recovery. I doubt anyone wants to hear from their medical provider, "I've got this great idea I want to try on you, because today we're taking risks!"

Posted by: brian on March 28, 2005 05:15 PM


Posted by: Brett on March 28, 2005 06:13 PM

I agree with 1~9, but #10 is achieveable if done correctly. Root cause analysis is more than just an accident investigation. The point is NOT finding the 'goat' as you say, but finding and fixing the problem. In manufacturing, for instance, if a bad part is made and shipped, don't look to the person who packaged and shipped the NG part; instead, look for the cause of the NG part being made in the first place and countermeasure that, instead. Then the person won't be able to ship a NG part (or one for that reason) because it will be impossible to make. I've been doing this shit for 17 years and I know it does work!

Posted by: Michele on March 28, 2005 06:46 PM

Here it is folks. Corporate-speak made simple. It's called the "Buzz Phrase Projector", and it is simplicity itself. The system employs a lexicon of 30 carefully chosen buzzwords arranged into 3 columns. (I haven't figured out how to make the columns line up so that they display correctly on this comment thread. But you'll figure it out. It's easy.

First, here are the words. Arrange them in the columns as indicated...



The procedure is simple. Think of any three-digit number, then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For instance, number 257 produces "systematized logistical projection", a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report with that ring of decisive, knowledgeable authority.

No one will have the remotest idea of what you are talking about. But the importantant thing is that they are not about to admit it.

Well folks, I did admit it - even before I stumbled across the Buzz Phrase Projector. But at least now I am not intimidated by phrases like "balanced management options."

Posted by: Roy on March 28, 2005 07:37 PM

Collectively this is all known as the "warm and fuzzies" which we all know is a euphemism for bullshit!

Posted by: Midaz on March 28, 2005 07:55 PM

I can't believe nobody has said, "Go ahead...," as in, "I'm going to go ahead and swab the rump of my team leader," or "I'm going to go ahead and transfer you to voice mail hell." I hate that fucking term--its depiction was one of the strong points of "Office Space."

Posted by: Chris on March 28, 2005 08:53 PM

Roy. You are a God in my book.

That system WORKS!!!

Posted by: Acidman on March 28, 2005 09:09 PM

One of the low points of my corporate life ( and that of my fellow inmates ) was when we found out Scott Adams DID NOT work for General Motors.
We had never been so certain of a fact in our working careers.
We KNEW he was buried somewhere in GM.
God it's awful when a pillar of your existence is kicked out from under your pedestal.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on March 28, 2005 09:09 PM


When I first heard that word, I thought that some semi-literate sort was trying to sound eddimucated.

Posted by: Juliette on March 28, 2005 09:31 PM

I did 12 years in the Army, and am officially 100% broke-dick because of it. Veteran's disability payments are adequate but not generous, and I used to wish I could go out and do better. But the more I hear about civilian employment, the less I complain. At least in the Army you got to take it out on uppity foreigners once in a while!

Posted by: John Stephens on March 28, 2005 09:35 PM


I'd love to bask in the glory and take credit for that system. Unfortunately, I can't - not if I'm honest anyway. The truth is, I don't have the slightest clue who the author of the Buzz Phrase Projector is. A colleague of mine sent it to me via email way back in 1996. When I opened that mail, I laughed my ass off for 20 minutes. I've been saving it every since for just such an opportunity to spring it on an unsuspecting audience.

Posted by: Roy on March 28, 2005 09:45 PM

"Cascade" Spew this bullshit down through the organization.

Posted by: Jim - PRS on March 28, 2005 11:57 PM

College educated people make everything work...I salute you. I make everything work for your assess though. I understand, you might get hands dirty.
I remedy that situation....
But all is well, I keep on dealing with yuppie shit, and yuppie will pay for it.. Like me now? Deal with it or find a beaner...como?

pursel, your corporate life musta sucked ( Rob, forgive me)..

Please share with us your "high" points.
I see you sit on a pedestal as well. Would you be as smug when I kicked the pedestal from under you ass?
You piss me off, but know that you will perish long before I will...
Oh, pursel, fuck ya!

Posted by: murry on March 29, 2005 02:55 AM

I knew I'd reached the height of work day inefficiency when during a meeting designed to brainstorm ways to be more productive (hint - hold less meetings?), I was 'tasked' with the job of chairing meetings in order to choose when the best time to hold meetings for the brainstorming sessions would be.

If I'd needed a logo for my committee, it would have been one of those infinity know, the sideways "8".

As an employee of the County Office of Education, I was a union member, so I got paid whether I was sitting at my desk doing what they hired me for, or sitting in the conference room with the rest of my committee, deciding whether to have pastries and fruit at the next meeting or just stick with donuts.

I miss that job.

Posted by: Trish on March 29, 2005 10:26 AM

The one I remember was: "Under The Radar Screen"... Ahhh, the Corporate world!

Posted by: Bob on March 29, 2005 10:33 AM

I used to work for an international management consulting firm. When the big boys were doing reports for clients, when discussing markets three words ALWAYS appeared in the report: robust, thrust and penetration. Makes you all tingly, doesn't it?

Posted by: Omnibus Driver on March 29, 2005 04:39 PM

"pursel, your corporate life musta sucked ( Rob, forgive me).."
Well no, not at all. Part of the big fun is gaming the system to get the real work done to make a profit. Which we did.

"Oh, pursel, fuck ya!
Posted by murry at March 29, 2005 02:55 AM"
You're up pretty late. Apparently no takers at bar closing? Since "murry" is non-gender specific, I'll pass taking you up on the offer until I know the details. But, I have to tell you I have some witnesses who will testify I AM "straight".

Posted by: Dan Pursel on March 29, 2005 07:16 PM

Y'all forgot the most important buzzword of all:


My "corporate environment" is thick as flies on shit with management, but leadership? None to be found!God forbid we should actually be concerned with serving our clients, because it's more important to protect our turf and build our fiefdoms. The saddest part? When I started calling the game-players "The Cabal", I had to define the word to all my college-educated coworkers!

Posted by: Candy on March 30, 2005 12:33 AM

A woman I work with constantly says "TELEPHONICALLY"

i.e. "The most expedient contact method is teleponically"

I want to throw something at her each time she says it.

Posted by: Insguy on June 7, 2005 03:19 PM
Post a comment

*Note: If you are commenting on an older entry, your
comment will not appear until it has been approved.
Do not resubmit it.