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Buzzwords Ain’t So Bad

Really, I am okay with buzzwords. I know that people are likely sick ofthem, but I find them appropriate from time to time, even effective in buildingculture. Here’s proof: Who do you associate with “Six Sigma” or do you knowwhat we’re talking about when we reference “Five-Nines Reliability?” Are youproud of being a “black belt,” yet have never broken a board with yourforehead? Put it another way – one person’s buzzword could very well be anorganization’s rallying cry. There are several reasons why I think suchneologisms are of value to businesses:

Really, I am okay with buzzwords. I know that people are likely sick ofthem, but I find them appropriate from time to time, even effective in buildingculture. Here’s proof: Who do you associate with “Six Sigma” or do you knowwhat we’re talking about when we reference “Five-Nines Reliability?” Are youproud of being a “black belt,” yet have never broken a board with yourforehead?

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Put it another way – one person’s buzzword could very well be anorganization’s rallying cry. There are several reasons why I think suchneologisms are of value to businesses:

  • They are easy to recall and remember
  • They have an “insider” feel
  • They can signify something new and valuable
  • They inherently invite others – employees and customers alike — to get onboard

There is a litany of examples where buzzwords have succeeded to beingpart of the American culture. Anyone CEO who ever said “there’s no ‘I’ in team”can relate. Which brings me to the main point of why I love buzzwords; they canhelp companies stay internally focused while helping to clearly articulatetheir benefit to customers. That’s not to say that one catch phrase willovercome any operational, product or management issues. However, they cancertainly drive grass roots, word-of-mouth marketing at little costs.

There are, of course, some things I’ve learned when trying to use oreven create a buzzword. Here are a few that I try to keep in mind:

  • Don’t overuse the catch phrase: It has to be something that’s natural and meaningful when spoken. Too much of a good thing is just that.
  • Don’t overly market the buzzword: Truth is, for the idiom to truly catch on, others have to do it and without prompting. There’s really very little magic or science to it. It either does or doesn’t. What’s more, an expensive ad or employee relations campaign will often kill it.
  • Let others do the buzzing: The best catch phrases are ones where customers, employees, and partners create. A top-down approach rarely succeeds.

Here at Red Door, there is special meaning to the word, “jerk” whichrelates to our core values (get to know us and you’ll know that there are nojerks here) or “Ritz experience” which describes our attention to detail andexpectation of always going above and beyond. We have a lexicon unique to us,but one that bonds the team together.

Herein lies the real power being buzzwords – they are an inherent partof an organization’s culture, leadership and values. If a company and, moreimportantly, its employees, possess passion and zeal for both itself and itscustomers, such idioms will have greater potential for widespread adoption.What’s more, it’s those types of catch phrases I find most endearing, becausethey are a true reflection of the organization’s management style and esprit decorps.