Last week I had two separate and unrelated conversations with experienced business people who used buzzwords to express their desired strategy, without having thought through the “how and why”. They didn’t even support their statements with any comment about how they were obviously plagiarising current populist business thinking. They spoke with genuine seriousness about their strategic intent.
This was a case of buzzword bingo in action!
I was shocked.
The first said that they wanted to explore how blockchain could be applied to a commercial proposition that they were developing. They wanted some help in defining how this might be done. This was a classic case of supplier led thinking or technology for technology’s sake.
The second was talking about changes in the healthcare industry and the person concerned said that they needed some AI (artificial intelligence) in a separate proposition. In fact they said that they needed a “Babylon” for their business, in reference to Babylon Health.
In neither case did either of them express any relationship between the identified customer or market need and the use of the respective buzzword to deliver that need.
The problem is that businesses and business leaders often want quick summary words to shortcut how they communicate their strategic intent. Perhaps it just reinforces the need for companies to spend longer working out what they stand for and why they offer something better. The sad truth is that most companies don’t know the answers to these difficult questions. No surprise then that they leap on other people’s coat tails. This wouldn’t matter if it didn’t so often lead to people desperately looking for the latest shiny thing and wasting time and money in this pursuit. So let’s try to kill the use of buzzwords unless they are carefully and precisely used.