Jargon is everywhere. Just like countries, every industry has its own language with terminology, slang, and catch phrases. Some of this is fine, maybe even good — it can help people within the tribe connect to each other and speak more quickly and accurately about things.

But in many groups these days, we have gone ridiculously overboard with our jargon, to the point where it is not helping anything, especially not our communication.

Take my field of Organizational Development / Human Resources (OD/HR), for example. Here’s a list of jargon I pulled from an email I received today:

  • Large and small group interventions,
  • Outsourcing,
  • Localized change management initiatives within the BU’s,
  • Strategic planning,
  • OD-type transformational change initiatives,
  • Aligned to business units,
  • Succession planning,
  • Enterprise-wide SAP implementation,
  • Field OD team, and
  • Process changes.

All from one email.

Here’s the problem: outside of my field (hell, even INSIDE my field in many cases), to many folks this would be meaningless gibberish. And even for those “in the know,” my question is… does it have to be so complicated? Why can’t we just say what we need to without hiding behind a bunch of terminology?

Personally, too much jargon makes me wonder if folks really know what they’re even talking about.

As boundaries between industries continue to break down in the new economy, internal vocabularies across the board need to be simplified.

Take the iPad. Releasing this coming Saturday, this is a device that will obliterate even more barriers between technology and the news industry, and unlike the Kindle, also incorporates elements of traditional business (word processing) and entertainment (movie viewing and music listening) capability as well.

You’ll notice Apple NEVER uses complicated jargon to describe what the iPad does, or any of its other products for that matter. And they are in the technology business; one of the most complicated fields out there.

Making our communication simpler makes it more meaningful to more people. We should make it our goal to kill some jargon.


2 Replies to “Kill The Jargon”

  1. Josh,
    Love the post. I just found this article today on a similar topic. You might like it. http://www.inc.com/magazine/20100501/why-is-business-writing-so-awful.html

  2. This is absolutely wonderful; thanks so much for sharing, Sara! I am becoming a huge fan of 37signals and their approach to work.

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