Dear industry colleagues, it has to stop. We sound like such jerks and most of you don’t even realize it. Why do we create this ridiculous, consultant jargon? Is it our desire to distinguish ourselves from one another when in fact our companies are all pretty much the same? Is it the fact that we usually have no idea what we’re talking about but want to trick the clients into thinking that we’re worth the ridiculous rates we charge? Whatever the reason, let’s explore and dismantle this lexicon:
1) Transformation Framework: I can’t even make fun of these frameworks without getting upset. First of all, any client with an IQ above 75 will immediately realize that this “framework” has been recycled 1000 times with a thousand different clients. I thought we were supposed to make our clients feel special, that we do “bespoke” consulting. Instead, we’re out pimping the same two-slide ppt deck (I’m sorry, I mean “framework”) all across the land.
It gets worse. On a massive and perpetual sugar high from drinking the company Kool-Aid for two decades, the managing directors actually think these frameworks have merit and incessantly harass you to “tie your work back to the framework”……. The framework is horseshit bro! It’s a freaking marketing gimmick and you know it so lay off! It’s an empty suit, just like you. These Framework Freaks drive me bananas!
2) Value Targeting: “We’ll have to conduct a two-week value targeting sprint culminating in a value targeting workshop.” This is a real sentence. Someone actually said that last year. ‘Value Targeting’ is a phrase I hear all the time. WTF are you talking about!? Are you saying that you’ll find the most pressing organizational problems and fix them? Is that it? And of course, you can’t just talk to and interview people or review documents, no, you have to conduct a workshop. Probably even a series of workshops!...........
When the maintenance man comes to your apartment and sees that your toilet is gushing sewage water and decides that it needs to be fixed, is that ‘value targeting’? Perhaps he should take a step back and conduct a series of workshops to make sure that everyone in the apartment agrees that toilet repair is the appropriate “value” to target. Then he’ll develop a ppt. presentation outlining how he’ll fix the toilet; a “methodology” based on a tried-and-true framework no doubt.
3) Digital Transformation: In 2003 I had an unpaid summer internship with a major corporation. I walked in, they showed me a room full of papers stacked almost to the ceiling, and they told me to categorize them, scan them, and create virtual folders for each file category. Three days into this riveting experience my girlfriend unceremoniously dumped me. l spent the rest of the summer covered in papercuts, sad, single and losing 25 bucks a day by going to “work”. As a true professional though, I kept my spirits just high enough to keep chugging along by getting black out drunk 4 nights a week off of Jim Beam Rye and Coke. By the end of the summer, I had digitized over 14000 pieces of paper. That, my friends, is a digital transformation. …………. Now though, in 2021, what the heck are you digitizing that hasn’t already been digitized? The answer is “nothing”. You’re not digitizing shit because losers like me already did that 20 years ago through blood, tears, and bourbon-scented sweat.
4) Center of Excellence (COE): If anyone ever pitches you on the need to create a Center of Excellence, punch that charlatan right in the mouth. No organization anywhere, ever, needs a bunch of jack-offs in an ivory tower doing nothing but telling other people how to do actual work. By definition, a COE is meant to be finite because presumably it will have made every relevant stakeholder in the company excellent at whatever they do. Of course, this never actually happens. Furthermore, I’ve never seen one voluntary dissolve because why would you dissolve yourself when you get paid to do jack shit.
5) Seamless Optimization: A person who uses this term is insinuating that they can dramatically improve your organizational processes without any disruption to your business. Said person is a liar and gigantic asshole that must be removed from your presence immediately. This guy or gal’s great grandpappy was no doubt selling nerve tonic town to town from his horse and buggy 100 years ago. Rest assured that nobody’s nerves were soothed and the side-effects were heinous. Entrust this man’s progeny with “seamless optimization” and your company will suffer the same nerve-racking consequences.
I could add another 10-20 of these but I have actually grown depressed during this exercise. I’m surrounded by people who use these terms and they do so without hesitation. Some of my industry colleagues are just naïve and don’t know any better. Others are in autopilot mode from having spewed nonsense for 20 years and at this point they just can’t stop; a form of muscle memory unique to sleazy salesmen. My advice to my peers is this: Record your next three conversations with either colleagues or clients and review the transcript. In so doing you’ll be executing Step 1 of the Douchebag Recovery Framework (DRF): Recognizing that you’re a douchebag.