Disruptive innovation landscape

Be The Black Sheep (On language)

wazoku Blog

There are times when I don’t know what they mean, and I don’t understand what is going on or being discussed. It could be during a meeting, reading some material online or looking at job advertisements.

When this happens, all I can do is raise my hand like a child in a classroom:

I don’t know what you mean by disrupt”.


When you say optimising, what exactly are you talking about?

or this one

We are looking for a marketing ninja/guru/rockstar!

Growth hacker is another word that, when push comes to shove, no one can define it. When applying for a marketing ninja job, do you need martial arts skills?

The tech industry (like many others) has been invaded by language that is often times misleading, put in place to disguise what is actually going on, giving the impression that the business is on the “cutting edge” of culture and that they pay attention to trends. The overuse of buzzwords strips meaning.

Language adjusts to culture, and culture adjusts to language. Think of how many people now use Google as a verb. My grandparents, they have no idea what this refers to, but my parents get it. A generation of difference in just that one word.

“For an industry so heavily centred on communication (and anything involving technology centres on communication — that’s what interfaces are for), it’s astounding how bad we are at communicating. We tell ourselves that we’re user experience designers when an experience cannot in fact be designed; we drop the word “hacking” as though we haven’t already drained it of meaning; we celebrate game-changers as if the game we’re playing isn’t designed and in fact dependent upon constant change.”


Go read the whole article. It’s good, and it goes straight to the point.

Where does that leave us? It means that you can stand out by not fitting in. Your organisation can be the one that chooses, and it is a conscious decision, not to use those words. Falling in line with all the others doesn’t show leadership, it only shows willingness to fit in. Sometimes not fitting in can be your advantage.