THE COMPANY JARGONAUT YOUR WAY UP CORPORATE STAIRS
“What the hell did he just say?” A colleague asked me about the company jargonaut via text. We were sitting in a social media, management meeting several years ago.
“Nucleus threat bomb,” I stealthily typed out my response. Well, I attempted to be as covert as I could while keeping my head level to those at the table– darting my eyes down then back up every two letters or so. The response took a bit.
“I thought I had heard him say he had a bomb.”
Obviously, that wasn’t it, everyone stuck in this meeting was listening to this dude or pretending to. No one had chivalrously jumped on top of him, restraining him until the authorities arrived. No one was calling for security.
These jargonauts have a way of snake-charming meeting attendees into submission, keeping heads level, swaying back and forth. No one can understand what’s being said, you will develop a headache just trying. So enter the jargon trance and think about past Florida vacations.
That’s where I was during that meeting, the trance. But “Nucleus threat bomb” was too hard to ignore.
JARGON FOLLOWED BY MORE JARGON IS A SIGN YOU HAVE A COMPANY JARGONAUT
It was just the opening salvo for the word warrior. He really was the master of disjointed corporate verbal diarrhea.
It was like listening to a word salad with all radishes, he once linked “user-generated content” to our company’s “cost per click.” But he didn’t say it that way, it would have sounded ridiculous even for him, and he would risk jarring his victims out of their hypnotized headache. No, he said that “in the long run, we would be better off serving our CPCs to their network UGCs.” And his manager nodded.
And no one called him out for this bullshit. It was infuriating, we should have all been planning to throw a blanket over his head and throw bars of soap at him. That’s what would have happened in military school.
We were supposed to be gaming out how to get more Facebook LIKEs, his presentation was to be on how he would get the kids to “mash” our Facebook LIKE button.
WTF IS THE DEAL WITH YOUR COMPANY JARGONAUT
I’m not hating on everyone that uses jargon, or pie-charts, acronyms, or cliché. I’m sure we all know a mild “jargonaut.” And sometimes, jargon will cut precisely to what you want to convey without trying to avoid the term and go down a long and winding sentence.
I am more hating on those that fill sentences with buzz-y bullshit. The snake-oil salesman of facebook likes; the jargonauts.
Jargonauts use 3 or more acronyms in a single sentence, which should not be tolerated. Especially when one is B2B and B2S, which, by the way, happened. B2B stands for Business to Business, a marketing term for industries that market to other businesses rather than to customers. B2S isn’t even a marketing acronym (that I’m aware of), I’m pretty sure it stands for Back to School.
In the extreme, these folks are so deceptive, overcompensating for their lack of anything productive to offer. Fortunately, from my experience, they are a rarer breed of kiss-ass via perceived genius. I can count on two fingers how many I’ve worked with, and that is enough.
JARGONAUTS BRING A SUPREME MONEY SHOOTER TO A KNIFE FIGHT
The Facebook LIKES meeting masqueraded under the pretense of brainstorming new paths towards company success, but it wasn’t that at all. It was basically an opportunity to display corporate machismo.
“What kind of brand velocity are we looking to achieve here?” The boss shrugged, seemingly digging the question enough not to ask him what the hell he was saying.
Jargonauts look to ingratiate their way up the tiers of upper management. Whipping out a slew of buzz-terms buoyed with adult speak and inane PowerPoint graphics.
The jargonaut PowerPoint decks are stuffed with rhetorical questions, Tsun Tzu quotes, headers chocked with “we musts,” and graphs. If you were drunk, it would probably seem more coherent. I know that sounds dickish, but if you were to see a bunch of words displayed followed by vector shapes lined up in graph formation, you might drunkenly assume it was an excellent presentation.
But what do drone sales following a Douglas MacArthur quote have to do with Facebook LIKEs? It’s a great looking infographic that used the illustrated drone rotors as individual pie-charts; very clever. And nothing the hell to do with Facebook LIKEs.
It’s like bringing a dinner plate to a knife fight. Maybe my Supreme Money Shooter was a better analogy…
DISAPPOINTING SANDWICHES AND SOUR CREAM PONDS
This was the type of meeting I dread getting the invite for. For one, it was on Fridays, nothing like slowing the week to a dreadful crawl just before the weekend. For two, it was a free lunch, but it was a free lunch from Panera, the Barnes & Noble of disappointing sandwiches places.
Panera has okay breakfasts, there broccoli cheddar soup is hard to beat, and that’s about it. How many times can you order a tub of broccoli cheddar soup before developing a heart condition? So, I would get the Tuna.
Chipotle was sometimes ordered to break up the disappointing sandwiches. The only problem was for every chicken taco; they would give you 1 part chicken and 7 parts sour cream. I really don’t need a lake of sour cream filling out my burrito bowl. Apparently “light sour cream” in the directions means it would still show up with the Lake Superior of Sour Cream, drowning the rice in dairy damnation.
IT IS NOT FAIR TO OLDER FOLKS
I am far too shy to call a jargonaut out on his bullshit. I just fall back on the passive-aggressive posting of meaningless infographics and blog posts.
The room’s audience probably had an average age of 55+, even if you are making a fair point about CPCs half the room won’t have any idea what the hell you are talking about. Cost Per Click isn’t that much longer to say, and it will have a better shot at being initially understood.
We are in these meetings to be understood, right? You shouldn’t be allowed to score points for not being understood.
I think that’s how jargonauts survive in business, no one wants to sound like they are technology illiterate, especially in a meeting with upper management. And, top management doesn’t want to seem tech illiterate, either.
You could say, “what the hell are you talking about?” And he could be talking about something you should probably know. It’s not worth it.
So you just smile and nod for a half-hour in the jargonaut-trance.
Fortunately, as everyone is catching up with technology, there will be far less opportunity to jargon the crap out of everyone to make yourself look better in front of the bosses.
Our jargonaut even created acronyms for his own hair-brained initiatives. Never mind some of the acronyms already belong to covert government agencies. Moreover, “Customer Intelligence Agency” is just silly.
And for practical purposes, If you name a new company initiative and then immediately give it an acronym, how is anyone going to make sense out of it? No one will ever grasp the name of the project, or the significance of why we tried to jack the CIA’s acronymic identity for a hair-brained venture. And no one will eventually see the CIA as “Consumer Investigative Action” over the “Central Intelligence Agency.”
Besides, there really should be a rule that if you name something unless it’s your child, you cannot acronym that shit. It will just be another stiff-corpse acronym for the graveyard of broken acronyms.
I AM NOT A SMART MAN, BUT I KNOW WHAT GLOVE IS
Shit, to be fair, I have no idea what the hell most people are talking about. I am not the smartest person in most rooms; I mean, if the glove fits wear it, amirite.
Maybe “proxy matrix” is a legitimate industry term. Maybe “brand” can actually be used to measure velocity. Perhaps marijuana sales bar-graphs highlighting days of the week dispensaries are at their busiest is actually the key to assholes liking our Facebook page.
Most colleagues and friends assume I am as techy as they are because I worked in QA for a software company and make my living on computers. They have terms for connection ports and wires that are entirely foreign to me.
“Shouldn’t you be using a USB C connection for your file transfer?” The hell if I know—are you asking me or telling me? It is just connection shapes like the stark oval shape or double-stacked rectangle, or the wire color, to me.
If you are saying give me the white wire with the oval, I’m your man.
Well, crap, I forgot to mention your mom. How is your mom doing btw? Let me know in the comments.