In Your Career, Space ISN’T the Final Frontier

In Your Career, Space ISN’T the Final Frontier

I got pulled into a Black Hole a number of years ago.


Well, not in the literal sense but the feeling must have been somewhat similar to the deep space version – or at least I tell myself it was.


A deep empty void – confusing – without definition – and seemingly endless.


Mine was not quite as far reaching – there was oxygen there though it seemed to be seeping out at a rapid rate.


My guess is that many of you have experienced something similar – if you are in the business world I guarantee it.


At the time I was crafting a business proposal and an action plan. Generally a fairly simple process – until I got “crossways” with what I now call “corporate speak.”


Corporate speak represents the sometimes contradictory, always confusing organizational language most companies create to try and express basic principles in a way that few to no one really understands – best characterized by overlapping waves of additional verbiage to further confuse.


(And yes, I went out of the way to make the above definition a true reflection of “corporate speak.”)


Let me give you an example – I subsequently created a notebook of terms to record/remember these. If you are charged with running some portion of a business my guess is you will recognize catch phrases that would make the comic strip character Dilbert proud.


Here are just a few we toss out when we want to find a way to express key factors associated with a Business or an Action Plan…(and if these in some way make you a bit nauseous I apologize in advance.)


The list includes:

  • Strategic Milestones
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Strategic Pillars (remember, anything with strategy attached to it HAS to be good)
  • Mission Imperatives
  • Critical Success Factors
  • Business Priorities
  • Lead Indicators
  • Lag Indicators
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Vision Statement(s)
  • Organizational Mission Statement(s)
  • Purpose Statement(s)
  • Tactics
  • Value Statement(s)
  • Strategic Imperatives (note earlier comment about the intrinsic value of any phrase that attaches “strategic”)
  • Strategy (hey, I had to have it there somewhere)


OK, you get the picture.


This is not intended as an indictment of business planning. But it’s not planning that makes the difference – it’s execution.


I share this because sometimes we can’t manage to get out of our own way – and unknowingly introduce our own impediments to effective execution.


I remember leaning over to a colleague at a meeting once and asking for clarification on a phrase that had been dropped into the dialogue.


I had never heard it before.


Her answer was priceless.


“Does it really matter?”


Here’s what I learned.


  1. Simplicity is powerful – VERY powerful.
  2. Not every topical phrase of the day has to make its way to your company – and if it comes from a select few who’ve fallen in love with the sound as it slips off their tongues then you can assume it will not resonate.
  3. Consultants (and today I am one) carry a lot of stuff with them. Some of it actually helps a company improve its bottom line. A lot of it is just….well, stuff. Draw your own conclusions.
  4. Most companies need a clearinghouse to remove ambiguity – and yet siloes continue to build that complicate.
  5. Someone somewhere could make a million bucks just compiling a working Company Thesaurus – but the weekly updates would make it all but impossible.


I survived my Black Hole – and eliminated 80% of the terminology around planning and execution.


Today I carry with me a working tool that we use with clients to effectively “kill the little darlings” that frustrate and confuse across a broad array of topics.


It’s a powerful exercise – some would say cathartic.


Less can be more.


But if I were really smart I would give a lot of thought to the Thesaurus thing.



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