Strike Buzzwords from your Business

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Strike Buzzwords from your Business

Have you ever read a corporate vision statement that made no sense to you? Or listened in a meeting when someone droned on about "breaking up silos," to "synergize" departments and thought - WHAT? You're not alone.

Business communications are peppered with such clichés. They sound inspirational and on-trend, but most of the time mask a lack of detail. Just exactly how is your company going to synergize those departments? Who's going to be in charge of maximizing leverage? What's your deadline for achieving seamless integration? And how do you measure how much that paradigm has shifted or that bar raised?

"I always advise clients to ban these lazy buzzwords from their planning process. They're vague, and are used to avoid accountability," says Planning Boot Camp author and business planning expert Peter Wright. "They allow for too much wiggle room - and, therefore, are not very useful."

What then should replace them? When it comes to strategic planning, the emphasis should be on practical - not feel-good - wording. Let's take, for example, a fundamental component of the planning process - the vision statement. It's great the Board's vision for the company is to be a "thought leader" in its field - but such a term does not help you and your colleagues achieve the goal.

Your first problem is defining what a thought leader is within the context of your industry.

Then you have to figure out how to judge success. It's better to ditch the buzzword altogether and replace it with concrete language, such as: "In four years our online blog will reach 50,000 visits per month, our social media accounts will quadruple in followers and we will be quoted by the media on a monthly basis. This will establish us as an expert in our field, which in turn will gain us a 10 percent increase in customers."

Now that vision is something you can plan for, something you can achieve, and something you can measure your success against - it even has a built-in deadline of four years. The other components of your strategic plan can outline in detail the who, what, when and how much more effectively because you and your colleagues have banned vague language from your planning process.

Is your Company's vision statement practical?

Ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Does your vision statement use vague buzzwords?
  2. Is it a wish list, full of platitudes?
  3. Is it rambling, or too short to be useful?
  4. Is it impossible to measure?
  5. Does it have a deadline too long in the future - or no timeline mentioned at all?

If you've answered yes to any of these questions, your company's vision statement will be filed and forgotten for another year. To make it an effective component of your strategic planning, you must challenge your company to a rewrite - this time without relying on clichéd buzzwords.