Jargons are the best thing to have happened in the history of mankind. A few months ago, Mukesh Ambani was quoted by the media “Data is the new oil “. Screw you man. So what? Should I buy the oil? Or should I clean up the data? There’s enough abundance of data in this world and enough shortage of oil. Just because some random person has created a random jargon which sounds impressive and intelligent, the whole world starts using this as if it’s a slogan to liberate us from independence. A layman will have no clue of this shitty jargon. Should I apply data on my head as its a replacement for coconut oil? Or are you selling data in satchets Mukesh bhai? …
The corporate folks take jargon obsessions to an all new level. Jargons are corporate Viagra for senior leaders. The greater the dose, the greater the erection levels … of intellect. Disruption, co-creation, value creation, big picture, dirty picture… Picture hi picture. In many corporates, an individual’s fate is decided by the amount of jargons used in his /her presentation. Lets look at the below corporate case study of Ramu and Shyamu.
Ramu and Shyamu do the same work independent of each other for 20 days and now are presenting their findings to the management. Ramu starts ” Sir, I analyzed various types of data, spent a lot of time with excel sheets, applied various formulas and now I present the findings. ” Rama opens a few drab excel sheets and starts showing his findings. The management is asleep. Shyamu goes next “Sir, I have extrapolated various data cuts , correlated the statistical significance using data mining techniques , applied big data principles and have come up with some strategic insights “.That’s it. Data mining, strategy, big data. The sleepy management wakes up. Shyamu follows his “I have a dream “style introduction with his opening Powerpoint slide. Instead of the excel sheet, the first slide is an animation -filled title slide. The words “data based strategic insights” rotate from the left to the right of the screen like Shaktimaan. Shyamu has complex graphs, hyperlinks and makes an “impact” presentation ending with the punchline “Data is the new oil. Let’s rule the world with our new oil”.
Shyamu is greeted with applause all around. The HR Head calls him “an upcoming thought leader of the future ” and a “hi-pot” (not sure which one of the two was high on pot) .Ramu on the other hand is branded as an “operational resource ” lacking in strategic foresight. He is sent to IIM Meh-meh-medabad for improving his strategic skills. There, he meets the founder of “Bull-shitter.com”, home to the world’s leading management gurus. He is taught the art of bull-shitting his way up the corporate ladder. He is taught the Three Golden Laws of Corporate Bull-Shitting:
1) Always include the word “strategy “in every corporate sentence
2) If you cannot, look at the following words “innovation”, “capability”, “ disruption”, “outperformance”, “ accelerator”, “explode” ,”restage”, “impact”, “levers”, “redefine”, “hands-on” ,“360 degree”, “ elevate “. Refer the McKinley dictionary of jargons for the complete list of words
3) If you still cannot apply 1 and 2 in your day-to-day corporate life, then please visit the STA (Shashi Tharoor Academy ) to hone your skills better.
Pleased with this knowledge, Ramu heads back to the corporate world. He meets his team. Usually, he would ask his team members” Hey, what’s the update on the Madanapally distributor performance?” Instead, he shows off “ Team, what’s the progress on our Madanapally strategy of disrupting the market with our three lever approach ?” His team is confused. Ramu however doesn’t stop there. He meets his HR Business Partner. The HRBRP says “Sir, I wanted to give you an update on our recruitment status”. Ramu blasts the HR “ Dude, how dare you degrade yourself? You aren’t just doing recruitment mate. You are doing “TALENT ACQUISITION” Please never use the operational word “recruitment” again”. Ramu then meets the supply chain coordinator- “ Bro, what’s the update on our supply chain strategy of improving efficiency by using a disruptive hands-on- approach?” The supply chain coordinator, who’s just a graduate and doesn’t understand anything of this, frantically calls his boss. His boss replies “Bro, chill. The guy has just come from his strategic immersion classes. He’s talking about the “delivery time improvement project status”. Ramu next visits the IT person. Usually, he would do a status check progress on the new website UX design. Instead, he kills it “Dude, where are we with respect to “re-defining our customer experience”. The IT person becomes a fan of the way Ramu has thought of “the bigger picture”. In a year’s time, Ramu is back in the list of “hi-pots”( by this time he also develops a pot-belly).
Ramu carries on in this manner for 5 years. He gets promoted every year and, in the process, exhausts all the jargons possible. People are now bored of his jargons as they have become repetitive. Fresh ideas and fresh jargons are the need of hour. He remembers the 3rd Golden Rules of Corporate Bull-Shitting and visits the Shashi Tharoor Academy. He is taught a solitary case study of how to sex-up sentences. Mr. Tharoor himself takes this class. He quotes his own real-life case study where he wanted to tweet his reactions to a journalist’s allegations of murder against him. He says” I wanted to give it back to the journalist but I also wanted people to learn the English language through me. This was my Tweet – Exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations & outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalst. When I did this, the whole of India googled the word farrago and the focus conveniently shifted to my excellence in jargons rather than my allegations. Farrago means a confused mixture. I hope you get the case study”. Ramu was spellbound.
Armed with this new weapon, he starts unleashing it at every possible opportunity. “Folks, a strategy if executed badly may turn into a farrago of errors” “ The candidate looks like a farrago of emotions to me. Rejected” “ The website design if not done well may lead to a farrago of errors” His name became Farrago Ramu. A few people committed suicide because of mental harassment. Finally, the senior management reached out to Shyamu, who now had completed a Ph.D in the Shashi Tharoor Academy. Shyamu had taken a sabbatical to do this and was now dangerously jargonized. Shyamu met Ramu. One conversation was enough for Ramu to get a heart attack and tender his resignation. The management quizzed Shyamu what were the golden words he had used. Shyamu replied. “ Sir, you need to fight fire with fire. I just quoted another Tharoor beauty which got him spell-bound.- I choose my words because they are the best ones for the idea i want to convey, not the most obscure or rodomontade ones! “ The management got up from their seats –“ We have heard of lemonade, promenade…what the hell is rodomontade?” Shyamu replied – sir “ Rodomontade means boastful or inflated talk or behavior. This behavior won Shyamu the “ Golden Peacock award for Bullshitting Excellence” from the corporate world. Everyone lived happily ever after.
When I narrated this story to my wife, she asked if this was a true story. I smilingly replied, “Bas kar pagli. Dimag ka farrago mat kar. I never believe in rodomontade. Now please pass on my lemonade 😊”