Four of Today's Grossly Overused Words

Four of Today's Grossly Overused Words

Four of Today's Grossly Overused Words

Every era seems to have words that are associated with it, words that have usually been overused, and today is no different.

I have four words that I believe are overused today. The first three are :

·       Innovation (or innovative)

·       Disruption (or disruptive)

·       Digital

It is impossible to read anything about business without stumbling across “digital this” or “innovative that”. And they are often combined as “digital innovation” or “disruptive innovation”. It seems that many people think that any business pitch, idea or story is not worthy or credible with a good smattering of these. Clearly, the intent is to try and set the subject ahead of the pack in these difficult economic times by showing them to be current, creative, progressive, but the use is so common now that they have become little more than a “hygiene” factor ie don’t let yourself be disqualified for not using them liberally and thereby suggesting that you might not be innovative, disruptive, digital, etc..

A simple thought test is that if every business that claimed to be innovative and disruptive truly were, then the world would be a maelstrom of continual change that never settled. Are we there?

The problem is not new, in recent times we have had “authentic”, “agile”, and “transformation/transformational”. Before that, we had “global” and many others.

The big problem is that the meaning of these words becomes confused as each user, in turn, twists things a little in order to stand out as special and different. Instead, the reader/listener loves to categorise information and just lumps them together into a new “pack” with few standouts. The words use their value as descriptors or differentiators.

Advantage gone!

The fourth word I would put into that same situation today is “wellbeing”. Find me an HR consultant, business coach, training business who does not offer something relating to “wellbeing”. I know this is slightly more emotive, but I am not attacking the importance of caring for yourself and those around you, just the excessive use of the word.

So the challenge for entrepreneurs and writers is to find truly distinguishing descriptions of their new (or existing) products or services such that they attract investors and clients and command something more than commodity prices.

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  • Lisa Flynn

    Coronavirus is overused in 2020.....

  • Aman Singh

    Real innovation is dead !

  • Christine Anderson

    Well said Ian

  • Rob Ward

    Don't get me started with "hashtag" anything

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Ian J Sutherland 

Business Change Expert

Ian J Sutherland is a highly skilled director with expertise in governance, partnerships and regulation and almost four decades of experience serving as a powerful catalyst for change for organisations of all sizes and sectors. He thrives on identifying areas for innovation and improvement, forming effective strategies to drive efficiency and create bottom-line results. He has a proven capacity to serve as a bridge between organisations and functions, creating unity and operational coherence. A personable and creative leader, with a unique insight and the ability to see the big picture and provide constructive challenge, he writes on many matters including the delivery of change in today's world and is an opportunistic photographer who seeks to capture images that interest him. He enjoys good beer, good company and good music - not necessarily in that order.


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