Communicating strategically (!)

Enjoying some tea at the cafe last week, I heard myself advising a colleague “we’ve got to leverage our automation accelerator and show real value soon; let’s touchbase after a week and then close the loop with the customer”.

I saw her face break into a small frown before opening out into the familiar nod and broad smile. As always, she understood what was required and would take care of it – no problem.

A few sips later, it struck me – I had just unleashed a torrent of office speak (actually gibberish) at her. Try this version (with italics for emphasis!):

“we’ve got to leverage our automation accelerator and show real value soon; let’s touchbase after a week and then we can close the loop with the customer”.

Try that on someone who isn’t privy to IT speak and I promise you he’ll sport a startled look on his face for a week. I mean here I was using “leverage” as if I was Mr.Archimedes and promising to touchbase (when I didn’t even play baseball!). I was closing loops (maybe also jumping through hoops!) and talking about real value (is there any other kind?!). Man, was I talking funny!

I checked with my colleague if she concurred that I was infected with the “office speak” bug and she did – only she hadn’t realized it until later because these words and phrases were pervasive – you found them in every conference room, in every building. Was an epidemic really underway – we decided to run tests for a week.

The next day, walking into the workplace, I found a team member wearing a dazed look. Restored with our strong vending-machine coffee, he managed to let us know what had troubled him so. He had just been asked to create a “holistic, proactive approach to accelerate the IT and business cycle for a client – and this (and I swear I am not making this up!) was for a client who wanted one person to be onboarded for 6 weeks to execute some testing! Kind of like going to book a taxi ride and ending up buying a Mercedes sedan huh!

That afternoon, in a “brainstorming” session, a participant got up and asked to share his “2 cents of wisdom”. The 2 cents turned out to be 25 minutes worth of a monologue covering (but not limited to) the army, cricket, global issues, local resort experiences and many other things. The speech was peppered with stuff like “hitting the ball out of the park”, transforming with game changing ideas (maybe play cricket in a football field?), war rooms to foster collaboration (don’t ask me how!) and a lot more. Indeed, if “2 cents (or any other currency)” could be stretched so far, it is time for our Finance minister to take some lessons from him.

Five ‘o’clock saw me and 3 other colleagues finalizing the agenda for a client meeting (yeah, I am always in some meeting!). To be exact, we were doing a “round table” meet huddled around an oval-shaped table. Someone (yeah there’s always a Mr.Smart Alec in every meeting right) asked a tough question that no one had a ready answer to. The response he got was epic “let’s connect offline on this one”. Offline? We weren’t online now (we didn’t even have laptops in that meet!) anyway!

And so it went. Once you start looking, you’ll realize how many hours of fun, “office speak” can provide you. Are you listening Mr.Russell Peters/ other standup comedians – we’re ready to pose you some tough competition!

And with that, I’ll leave you to you to enjoy the weekend. I’ve got to get back to work – there’s a holistic strategy that involves a multi-faceted technique I’ve got to spend time on. I promise you it will transform our client’s business and make them undergo a paradigm shift. So long then!

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