Top 11 business buzz words

It occurs to me that many people in business are impressed by buzz words. I call this guy Buzzword Bob. When I am doing business with Buzzword Bob, I find it easier to make it sound like I know what I am talking about if I pack as many buzz words into my sentences as I can. Something like this might do the trick,

"What we are looking to do is implement a robust process, which will bring synergies to the workplace and develop a paradigm shift that will align the tactial requirements of the business with the strategic values of the organisation"

But then there are the other kind of people who, refreshingly, aren't into buzzwords. I call this guy Layman Larry. Layman Larry is wary of those who they consider might be trying to pull the wool over their eyes. For Larry, a better thing to say might be,

"Let's build something that works and let's make sure that we can see that our every day actions support the objectives we want to achieve as a company"

While I am no expert at picking the Buzzword Bobs of this world from Layman Larrys, I have picked up a trend in which words are currently business buzzwords.

Why is it important to know what these buzzwords are? I can think of three reasons:

  1. Buzzword Bob takes comfort in talking to someone who shares his vocabulary. He may not think I know what I am on about if I don't liberally apply buzzwords to our conversation
  2. Layman Larry will switch off as soon as he hears a buzzword. Form that point on, no talk about football, beer or his kids are going to bring me back from the cliff I have just walked over
  3. Whenever consultants or sales guys are making their pitch to me and I have no interest in what they are pitching, a quick game of consultant / salesman bingo helps to pass the time - I write down a list of five words and if the person making the pitch says all of them, I win!

So what are the top business buzzwords I have picked up on? In summary, these words are:

  • Align
  • Robust
  • Synergy
  • Liaise
  • Liaison
  • Quantify / Qualify
  • Paradigm
  • Landscape
  • Organic
  • Tangible
  • Nebulous

I have put a more detailed view of these words below, along with dictionary definitions, buzzword usage and non-buzzword alternatives.

If I have missed any of your favourites (or pet hates, as the case may be you Layman Larry, you) please let me know.

Align definition

"to bring into cooperation or agreement with a particular group, party, cause, etc; to fall or come into line"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"You need to


your short term, tactical actions with your longer term, strategic vision"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"Do the things today that will get you to where you want to be tomorrow"

Robust definition

"strong and healthy; hardy; vigorous; strongly or stoutly built"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"Let's build a



Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"Let's build something that works well, even if things change in the future"

Synergy definition

"combined action or functioning"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"If you do not take both recommended actions, you will not be able to take advantage of the


inherent of a combined, two pronged approach"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"You will get better bang for your buck if you do both things as one supports and enhances the other"

Liaise definition

"To effect or establish a liaison"

So to get a proper understanding, we need to know what a liaison is

Liaison definition

"the contact or connection maintained by communications between units of the armed forces or of any other organization in order to ensure concerted action, cooperation, etc; a person who initiates and maintains such a contact or connection"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"I have engaged in


activities with the client"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"I have been talking to the client"

Quantify / Qualify

Quantify definition

"to determine, indicate, or express the quantity of; to give quantity to (something regarded as having only quality)"

Qualify definition

"to attribute some quality or qualities to; characterize, call, or name"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"This endeavour will reap both





Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"If we do this, there will be some benefits which we can easily measure and represent with numbers, but there are some important, additional benefits that will also be produced that will be much more difficult to measure"


American Heritage Dictionary definition

"A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"The result will be a


shift amongst the employees of the firm which will align them with the overall strategy of the company"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"If we can change the way that the employees point of view regarding their work, we have a better chance of getting them to do what we need them to do"

Landscape definition

"a section or expanse of rural scenery, usually extensive, that can be seen from a single viewpoint"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"We need to develop an understanding of the technical


that exists at the company"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"We need to understand company's use of technology"

Organic definition

"viewing or explaining something as having a growth and development analogous to that of living organisms: an organic theory of history"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"The company has grown through a combination of


growth and acquisition of competitors"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"Some of the company's growth is due to the purchase of competitors and some is from natural expansion"

Tangible definition

"real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary: the tangible benefits of sunshine; definite; not vague or elusive: no tangible grounds for suspicion"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"We must take tactical actions that reap



Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"If the actions we propose don't make changes we can see and feel, why are we talking about them?"

Nebulous definition

"hazy, vague, indistinct, or confused: a nebulous recollection of the meeting; a nebulous distinction between pride and conceit"

Sound like an 'expert' sound bite

"At the moment our operating environment is rather


, so we need to put some structure around the problem"

Sound like an 'every day guy' sound bite

"We don't really know what steps the solution involves, so lets make a plan"