I’ve been working in or with the corporate world since I was 23 years old. That’s a lot of time spent in meetings reviewing PowerPoint presentations. During that time, I had several “aha moments” about the language of corporations as I worked to “wrap my head around” the true meaning behind common terminology.
Let’s just say that in about 80 percent of the companies out there, a lot of terminology doesn’t match the action behind it. Those of you with corporate experience know exactly what I mean.
To incorporate some fun into our daily lives, I’ve decided to gather some of this terminology. I am calling this Corpedia: Revised definitions of corporate terminology.
My First Five Corpedia Definitions
Compelling Vision — This is a one-year-in-the-making paragraph that starts with, “To be a premier institution” and is presented to the CEO in a colorful presentation with the sound of a trumpet in the background. Once presented, it is stamped onto every marketing trinket possible and posted all over the company. The words cost the company a million dollars yet fail to motivate anyone, including the guy who sucks down Starbucks quads all day long.
Corporate Values — These are the boring behaviors that are put on the Compelling Vision poster, which no one notices until a new leader comes and declares his or her commitment to these values. At this point all employees scramble to find the values and then are heard to say, “We don’t adhere to any of this.”
Colleague Engagement — The term used when leadership is incorporating change that will require more hours while cutting staff. This effort usually includes some popcorn carts and T-shirts thrown into cubicles. Leaders are rarely seen during these times of high value, which means people are asked to believe they are valued without tangible proof, much like believing in the Loch Ness Monster.
Strategic Initiative — This refers to a project plan put together by the same people who put it together the year before. Success of a strategic initiative is based upon the number of pages and colors used in the project plan. There’s rarely any follow-up to see if the initiative was actually achieved, at least until the next year when the same topic becomes, again, a key strategic initiative.
Performance Appraisal — An annual form filled out by employees and provided to their leader who then uses it as a way to either confirm or deny a raise. The Human Resources person addresses the Performance Appraisal once a year, particularly when someone complains that they did not receive one and the company is at risk. Most companies can’t actually pinpoint how this form drives performance, but they’re sure that it does.
A Corporate Definition E-Book
I would love for every reader to comment below with his or her own corporate definition. If you are a little nervous about posting your definition in a public place, then send it to email@example.com and let me know that you’d like to remain anonymous. Otherwise, I will credit you and any company or blog link you’d like included with your definition.
P.S. I’m aware that there are many company employees working hard to do many of these things the right way and have had tremendous success. I’m not trying to put those efforts down. This is just for fun, so, as John Riggins (Redskins Running Back) said to Sandra Day O’Conner (Supreme Court Justice) at a dinner … “Loosen up, Sandy baby.”