A Guide to Dysfunctional Management and the Evil Workplace
October 7th, 2012 by William

Crisp is for Fruits and Vegetables

Walk the halls of management and you’ll hear many buzz-words on any given day. Here’s a sampling of the more common ones:

  • Strategy
  • Think outside the box
  • Proactive
  • Synergies
  • Core competency
  • Paradigm
  • Down-sizing, right-sizing
  • Upgrade the organization
  • Best of the best
  • On the Runway
  • Win-win
  • Low-hanging fruit
  • Learning curve
  • Value-add
  • Accountability
  • Multitasking
  • Bandwidth

I’m sure you can add to this list. I’ve always found the proliferation of these buzzwords interesting and humorous. Why is business so addicted to their use? In his 2011 book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy, Richard Rumelt has an interesting definition that I believe perfectly describes the purpose of these business buzzwords. He describes them as, “ritual recitations [that] tap into a deep human capacity to believe that intensely focused desire is magically rewarded.”

Probably the most overused buzzword is “strategy.” Seems if you put “strategic” in front of any task it makes it sound way more important and glamorous than it undoubtedly is. Here’s some examples; strategic initiative; strategic acquisition; strategic hiring, etc. By claiming their actions are strategic, any task somehow becomes more important and thus the people doing them more important. That’s the mindset behind the use of all the above buzzwords.

In addition to the list above, my all-time favorite is the word, “crisp.” This peach (pun intended) is most often heard in the context of communicating, but has also been applied to decision making.

The freedictionary.com defines crisp as: marked by clarity, and conciseness. I’m sure this is what management has in mind when they spout off the need to be crisp. However these attributes would be great if only they actually described business communication. Clarity, conciseness are probably the most missed attributes of communication in the modern organization. Ironically, management is the last to communicate clearly and concisely. For employees to communicate that way it must start with management for management sets the “tone” of the organization.

So let’s look at how being “crisp” really works in organizational communication.

Other than being the obvious adjective for a vegetable, we must look at its synonyms to describe what being “crisp” really means in organizational communication. The freedictionary.com lists a synonym as “curt” which is defined as; effectively cut short; a fast retort. Another synonym is “terse;” a response so curt as to be almost rude. These describe more accurately how communication really happens in the business context.

I do agree that some people need to get to the point more quickly when they talk, however; does management really want its employees being curt with each other, or being rude to each other, or when talking to customers? This may be a case of you get what you ask for.

There’s enough of this rude behavior going on in the world, it shouldn’t find its way into the workplace where cooperation and clear communication is paramount to success. In my book, Puttin’ Cologne on the Rickshaw I devote a chapter to the epidemic of rudeness in the world and how that spills over into the modern workplace.

Or do we really want “crisp” decisions? Not if you want to stay in business. Business needs deliberate, methodical, thorough, knowledgeable, complete, and wholly-investigated background kinds of decisions.

The management proliferation of the need to be “crisp” is just more proof that the typical workplace is becoming more uncivil every day. This need to be “crisp” is also nurtured by the management mantra that everyone needs to have a “sense of urgency” about everything they do. Modern business is always in a rush, no matter how trivial, or complex the situation, decision, or problem. The need to be “crisp” is just more evidence of this urgency epidemic.

Employees talking clearly and concisely with each other should, of course, be encouraged, but the important thing for that to work is that effective communication must also be factual, accurate and untainted by personal agenda. My book details how personal agendas and the associated games that are played will trump all the buzzwords and are really what make organizational communication so dysfunctional.


One Response to “Crisp is for Fruits and Vegetables”
  1. Gabriella Ballou says

    Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, nicely written and comes with all vital info. I’d like to look at more posts like this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reload Image