J – Don’t be a Jargon Junkie!

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, bake it in, circle back or leverage cloud platforms, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it.

If you need to ask why then I’m afraid it’s too late. You are a jargon junkie.

jargon1You may be well-versed in all the jargon that surrounds the technology industry or recite PMBOK in your sleep. You’re living and breathing cloud computing, balanced scorecards, virtualisation, swimlanes and blades. Good for you! A word of advice. You might want to keep the jargon to a minimum if you want the executives on the business side to understand what the hell you are talking about. Ok, a bit harsh. It is challenging to make the transition between the different languages of project management, technology and the business world. When it comes to talking things over with your company’s leaders and sponsors, remember that there are some words that will make their eyes glaze over, other phrases will bog you down in endless explanations, and some are guaranteed to cause panic.

Why do you do it? “Jargon masks real meaning,” according to Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give to others.” In other words it’s laziness. Or you should want to sound clever. Whether it is laziness, some bloated hubris, over-indulgence or ignorance the impact on the project is negative.

Good communication is central to the success of any project but the key is effective communication. It the project organisation does not understand what you are saying you have failed.

Find a common lexicon that all parties understand and are comfortable with. As project managers, we need to strive to understand the specific language of our customer and be able to translate and speak in the domain of the project rather than in our project-speak. We (all) benefit by communicating better with our customers and colleagues without losing the advantages of the project management discipline.

Remember we are custodians not dictators. We are empowered to champion or be the agents of change not the owners of it. Let someone else have the spotlight.

No-one likes a jargon junkie. Kick the habit! You don’t want to become one of these guys?!



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