Jargon, buzzwords and important-sounding management consultant speak. No one loves them more than information technology folk. Some spend their days super-charging their key value propositions and strengthening their go-to-market strategies, while others are busy providing thought leadership to their peers.
One of the reasons we talk this talk is because we're scared not to, says language guru Roly Sussex, an emeritus professor of applied language studies at the University of Queensland. People fear they'll reveal themselves as being behind the times if they speak plain English, rather than sounding like leading international gurus.
What appears to be serious language often contains very little content, but unless it's obviously empty of meaning, it quickly becomes entrenched, Professor Sussex says.
For IT Pro's money, you're looking pretty Paleolithic if your professional conversations aren't liberally littered with at least three of the following:
Herein lies the lesson:
Learnt something on the job that you think is important enough to share with the team? What would once have been called lessons should now be referred to as "learnings". Use this one to best effect by asking yourself the question you'd like to answer first: “So what learnings can we take from this under-optimised CRM project?”
See you in the C suite:
The c-word is still taboo in many quarters, even as its first cousin, the f-word, is tossed about with increasing abandonment. The C-suite, on the other hand, is all the rage. Just as IT directors began morphing en masse into chief information officers (CIOs) a decade ago, they're now making the leap from the boardroom to the C-suite, alongside other big "c" buddies like the CEO, CFO and COO.
Talk to the problem:
Is it possible to have a meeting without PowerPoint? If you answered yes, try to think of the last one you attended that didn't include someone droning their way through half a dozen multi-coloured pie charts. But up-to-the-minute presenters don't discuss their slides any more – they talk 'to' them.
One may also relish the authoritative ring of this form when answering questions. “Thanks John, I'll talk to the issues involved with running a multi-vendor network.”
Reach out and touch somebody:
"Reaching out" is all the rage. Banish the mental image of a pervert on a crowded bus about to get arrested by plainclothes police – it's what was known in days of yore as "getting in touch", or, for those already on nodding terms, "touching base". Once you've reached out to someone, the next step is to 'engage with' them, aka communicating. Fashionable in the ICT recruitment and sales sectors and rapidly gaining currency elsewhere.
Let's put our ideation caps on:
Good at coming up with new ideas? Don't undersell yourself as a strategic thinker – what you want to be thought of as is an ideator. Popular with those crazy creative types in the gaming sector, ideation is bound to catch on at the enterprise end of the market before too long. Why not get ahead of the trend by specifying you're looking for a great ideator next time you advertise a role?
Living on the edge:
One of the favourite activities of every good ideator is a brainstorming session at the whiteboard. Skilled practitioners take this a step further with "edge storming", aka pushing the ideas that the brainstorm generates to their dizzy limits.
Noun or verb – or can it be both? What is a 'true-up' when it's at home? Think of it as the high-tech love child of 'fessing up and an audit. It's what happens when you tot up your software use and pay your vendor extra if you've inadvertently over-distributed an application. Microsoft have developed a guide to the true-up process so it's only a matter of time before everyone's talking about it.