Sunday Musings: Why Business People Speak Like Idiots

Today’s heading “Why Business People Speak Like Idiots” is actually the title of one of my favorite books written by authors Fugere, Hardaway and Warshawsky.

It’s a fabulous effort of unearthing the stupidity and ignorance that goes on in meetings, during Power Point presentations and general communications in corporate America. Bloated jargon and monotonous memos contribute to the official language of business: Epidemic bull.

I can promise you that reading this book will change you forever in that you will look at every meeting or deadly dull presentation in a different light. Here is one calorie of empty business communication you might have heard at your workplace:

“This is just the kind of synergistic, customer-centric, upsell-driven, churn-reducing, outside the box, customizable, strategically tactical, best-of-breed, seamlessly integrated, multi-channel thought leadership that will help our clients track true north. Let’s fly this up the flagpole and see where the pushback is.”

The author’s cite many examples of ignorant executives simply stringing together a bunch of big words to make small points or no points at all. Some have figured out that when they don’t have a strategy, just play the word game. Here’s an excerpt by a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who sent an internal memo to his employees:

“… Resources will be targeted at the areas of highest potential for our entire business. We will strip complexity from our operations and enhance efficiency. As we become faster, more innovative and more responsive, we will strengthen our relationship with our customers. You will, I am sure, appreciate how integration will enable us to create more growth in North America through a better go-to market strategy that will benefit our customers, employees and system. By simplifying our business structure and focusing on (selected) channels, we will make it easier for our customers to deal with us…”

Sometimes businesses have a hard time delivering a tough message for, say, global workforce reduction of 20%. Then you might find a memo by the CEO like this:

“We are announcing today a series of necessary restructuring steps that are critical to the future of Warner Music Group…All of these steps are based on a careful and thorough analysis of all aspects of WMG’s needs and operations, undertaken in close collaboration with the company’s senior management over the past few months. It is of utmost importance that we make the necessary changes as quickly as possible so that WMG can begin to move ahead with increased strength and confidence as a more competitive, agile and efficient organization.”

The book goes on citing one moronic story after another. The stuff they uncovered is simply hilarious and reading it is very enlightening to say the least. In all fairness to corporate tycoons, there some examples of great communications shown as well, unfortunately, they are in minority.

If you have encountered similar stories, feel free to share them with me.

About Ulli Niemann

Ulli Niemann is the publisher of "The ETF Bully" and is a Registered Investment Advisor. Learn more
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