During my drive to work this morning, I listened to an NPR story about WalMart’s new merchandising strategy. (In a nutshell, WalMart is reducing the number of products it carries to make wider aisles and less-cluttered shelves, in hopes that shoppers will linger longer.) The story included an interview with Mattie Havner, “who oversees more than a dozen stores.”
So do we really need to carry 12 tackle boxes? … [We’re] really looking at clarity of offering.”
Clarity of offering. What does that mean, exactly?
Hearing this nonsensical, euphemistic phrase made me think of the bizarre biz-speak that has weaseled its way into our language.
I routinely hear people exhorting each other to “service the customer.” While it’s true that “service” does have one more syllable than “serve,” that doesn’t necessarily make it a better word choice (especially when you consider that “service” is a euphemism all its own).
I also often hear people refer to their product as the “best of breed.” Doesn’t that imply that the product is, by definition, a dog? And why is a “linkage” so much better than a “link”?
Then there’s “add value,” “best practices,” “buy-in,” “circle back,” “close the loop,” “download,” “empower,” “granular,” “low-hanging fruit,” “one-off,” “roll-out,” and “value-added.” Have you ever noticed how smug people look as they bandy about these terms? It’s almost as if they feel a part of some exclusive, secret club.
But by far my least favorite of all the biz-speak terms is “drink the kool-aid.” It’s equivalent to “toe the company line.” But for me, all it brings to mind is Jim Jones’ tragic mass-murder in Guyana.
Let’s hear it for speaking in plain English and saying exactly what we mean. Want more “clarity of choice”? Try having fewer options instead.