Paradigm: As in Changing paradigms, Paradigm shift, New paradigm. So what is a paradigm, why are they always changing and shifting, and is there anything we can do to stop them? Consultants, writers, salesmen, and speakers love this word, they like to use it to try to convince you that something dramatic is happening and you’re missing the boat. A Google search resulted in approximately 3 million documents containing the word Paradigm. I think that qualifies as overuse. In contrast, the phrase “inventory management” only returned 600,000 documents.
Sea change: This one is used similarly to “changing paradigm” to indicate a significant change is occurring. Throughout the history of business, I can only think of a few things that could be considered significant change: mass production, globalization, computer technology and the internet. That’s it! In fact, I don’t even think globalization can be considered a “changing paradigm” or “sea change” since commerce has been global for centuries. Everything else is pretty much the same.
Watershed moment: For those of you that feel the terms paradigm or sea change didn’t quite meet your needs for your next lame speech or article, try using watershed moment instead. Better yet, use all three.
Profit center. This term is increasingly replacing the term “cost center” in many companies. Why? Because some dozey managers or execs heard it in a seminar and thought that this simple name change would change the culture of their organizations. Why go through all the work of educating and managing your workforce, or evaluating and improving operations, when a simple gimmick like referring to your cost centers as profit centers is available?
Coaching: So when exactly did “training” and “supervision” become bad words? And is “coaching” really any less offensive to our overly sensitive workforce? Are we supposed to follow the examples of sports coaches and slap employees on the butt when they do something right or get in their faces and yell obscenities (no more than four inches from their face and make sure the spit is flying) when they fail to follow instructions. Sure, there have been times when I’ve had employees complaining of a back injury that I wanted to tell “walk it off, Nancy boy!” But I didn’t. Why? Because it’s not appropriate for business and I didn’t want to get fired, or should I say kicked off the team.
Leveraging: Another favorite of consultants, writers, salesmen, and speakers. They’re always telling you that you must be leveraging technology, leveraging knowledge, leveraging the internet, blah blah blah.
World-class: Ah yes, we all are struggling to be world-class. If only we knew exactly what world-class is.
Best practices:This is something all those world-class companies have, or so you are led to believe. If there truly were a way to determine best practices, I think we would be surprised to find out that they are not being used by the companies touted as world-class.
Anything E-: E-commerce, E-manufacturing, E-enterprise, E-business, E-world-class. Okay, the last one’s made up, but wouldn’t you truly be top of the heap if you were E-world-class? Granted, you would probably need to E-leverage E-best practices in order to achieve E-world-class status as we are experiencing a major E-shift in the E-paradigm.
Demand chain: Does calling a supply chain a demand chain really change anything? I’m pretty confident that most people working in supply chain management realize the purpose of the supply chain is to meet demand.
Value chain. Here we go again. From now on, I’m going to refer to the supply chain as a value chain, thus emphasizing that activities within the supply chain must be adding value to the product.
Value stream: This takes “value chain” to a whole new level of absurdity.
Income stream: I just received a phone call from a guy that was putting together a group of businesses to generate an “income stream”. He was trying to talk me into participating in the income stream (he mentioned income stream more times than I could count). I spend a lot of time outdoors and am well aware that a stream is generally taking runoff from a variety of areas and channeling it ultimately towards a larger body of water. I suspected the same would be true of this income stream scenario, ultimately channeling some of my income into this guy’s income pool.