Buzzword Bingo

By Cathy Hagan, Certified Business Analyst

“Buzzword bingo” is a game used in meetings to track overuse of management “buzzwords” by the speaker to mask a lack of knowledge rather than providing information or actual value.  The goal of the game is to get a certain number of words in a row and then yell “bingo”. 

The language of entrepreneurship has evolved over the years, and with this evolution has come certain buzzwords that have become “cliché” because of overuse.  At the last meeting you attended, how many times did the speaker refer to going to the “next level” or mention a “win-win” situation.  Or the last time you delivered a speech, how often did you utter “synergize” or “think-out-of-the-box”?  Phrases overused in business often lose credibility and fail to motivate or inform listeners. 
There is nothing inherently wrong with developing a common language to communicate ideas and fuel creative thinking.  And if a word or phrase becomes “known” by a group of people for having a particular meaning (such as “just in time” or “management by walking around”), then it has succeeded in bringing together a common understanding of a concept or theory.  
Buzzwords certainly must change over time to be relevant.  “Dot-com bubble” was timely in the late ‘90s in reference to the widespread failure of internet-based businesses during that time.  Today, “social networking” dominates the buzzword world, from “blogging” to “podcasting” to “tweeting”.   As long as leaders use buzzwords that are relevant and timely in a speech or discussion, incorporating a common language can be a “win-win” for everyone.
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