Business people use business jargon. Consultants are absolute champions at this. It is also widely accepted as somewhat pompous, hyperbolic, annoying… need we go on? You know the type.
Recently, Forbes magazine devoted a piece on the most annoying terms in the field. They range from pedantic, to overused and downright inappropriate. “Empower your team”. “Get our ducks in a row”. Or even “Open the kimono”. Wait…what? Forbes put together a great list of ‘faux pas’ expressions.
Annoying commonplaces are one thing. Feigned innovativeness and intellectualism is quite another. As if the trodden path of business platitudes is not enough, our industry often thinks up new terminology. Perhaps this originates in an effort to sound more evolving, or to make it sound more difficult than it is to justify the expense.
Imagine running a business and suddenly the experts have you wondering whether your marketing is lean enough if you are not a Blackbelt; whether you are using ‘growth-hacking’ for your innovative processes, or whether you scrum enough with your team. Thankfully, you no longer need to concern yourself with Total Quality Management so much these days, although Kaizen appears to be experiencing a bit of a come-back.
This jargon finds its way from successfully marketed ideas from the big Three (BCG, McKinsey, Bain) or an organization guru, via textbook writers, to the academic world of business schools. While often useful ideas, the terms are often the only real news, and the concepts a mere rehash of existing knowledge.
As a business owner, you do not need consultants spouting fads across the boardroom table. As a business owner, you know that you want to grow your business. As a business owner, you clearly know how to do business. You probably just need some help to kick start the growth, to break through to a next level of organization, to scale your successful concept.
It is not that consultants have a secret playbook with which to dazzle a business into ‘peak performance’ or ‘capitalizing dormant potential’. It is that they spend the time and expertise to find opportunities for that business. Time that a CEO can spend on other responsibilities. As a business owner, you need help you can use, which is practical and makes sense. That is the added value of a consultant. Words do not equal value, actual performance does.
A consultant may appear knowledgeable using acronyms and Japanese efficiency terminology, but business owners are not stupid. A plan embellished with buzzwords or new concepts is not necessarily wrong. Just that a plan delivered by a consultant needs to be so logical and sensible that the managers take ownership of it. This happens when they can use their own common sense, and their own words to communicate it throughout the company.
In the field of consultancy, the best marketing tool that is at our disposal, is our reputation. It ought to be based on practicality, ingenuity, clarity, and service. Not on hot air.