What’s the Buzzword?

Inspiring Stories

14 December 2018

What’s the Buzzword?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Welcome to the world of buzzwords. Popular, catchy phrases that might still retain some of their original meaning when applied in the right context, but which over time have simply become the trend.

Buzzwords are mostly used to impress people or to obfuscate when there isn’t much to say and, yet, a lot must be said. These words often originate in jargon or acronyms. Some words that we can immediately think of include next-gen, snowflake, deep dive, gig, stratcom or wheelhouse. Nodding your head as you read the collection?

Let’s dive deep into this concept and understand where it all began.

Meaning: what’s in a word?

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines a buzzword as ‘a slogan’, or ‘a fashionable piece of jargon’.

How do buzzwords originate? They do not simply appear; they are usually created by a group of people to mean something that they understand, or as a way to generate some hype. More often than not, buzzwords are associated with management and are part a of the leadership lexicon, more commonly known as ‘management speak’.

What this means is when a manager uses a buzzword, most people – subordinates or peers – hear just the word and not the meaning. They apply a context to it, further its popularity by using it themselves in a situation they deem similar.

Their history

Buzzwords were originally used by business students studying at Harvard. In the early years of buzz-wording (see what we did there?), these words were used by students to help them quickly recall terms of importance.

Here are a few examples:

-If his analysis does not highlight the most important problem, he has ‘poor focus’.

-If he fails to emphasize important recommendations, he will be accused of ‘tinkering’.

-If the sequence for the ‘implementation’ of the recommendation isn’t good, it’s a matter of ‘poor timing’

-To succeed, a student must ‘get on top of the problem’.

These terms, and many others, were collated and they soon became popular, and got the moniker ‘buzzwords’.

Using these terms meant students could speak with authority, and it seemed that using it was often more important than coming up with the answer.

It wasn’t long before these buzzwords made a strong impact on business culture and today are commonly used in business speak as well.

Present day scenario: what are the suits saying?

Buzzwords in business are a way for people to feel like they are all on the ‘same page’. In fact, many workplaces use specialized jargon that are either particular to their industry or their workplace.

These words are not only a trend, but they are also a ‘ticket of entry’ for individuals within a successful organization.

LinkedIn publishes an annual list of ‘buzzwords to avoid’ while creating resumes – ‘trite, empty words that sound good to the ear but actually convey almost nothing at all’. Some words in the list are: driven, extensive experience, track record, passionate, responsible motivated, creative, strategic, organizational, and expert. Feel like rewriting that resume, don’t you?

Conclusion

It might appear that buzzwords are almost a ‘necessary evil’ used by management to inspire their team, but also to stroke their egos. Often these cross over into pop culture and then into everyday life. With so many avenues for becoming ‘viral’, a buzzword can catch on quickly and be adopted by the entire world rapidly.

Millennials: perhaps the most misunderstood of them all

Inspiring Stories

13 May 2019

Millennials: perhaps the most misunderstood of them all

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

They’ve been called lazy, entitled and not willing to pick up their share of the load. But they’re also confident and assertive, and care for the world! Say hello to the millennials, the most misunderstood bunch of people (a rather large bunch!) in the world today.

If you found yourself nodding your head vigorously at all the descriptors, chances are that you are a millennial. Provided you were born anywhere between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. That’s a rather large time period to consider; then again, it’s a rather large bunch of people to consider across the globe. It is the entire next generation!

Meaning: who are the millennials?
But let’s do these guys a favour, shall we? This impression that people have of them is just that, an impression. The truth is that this generation simply thinks and works differently from the generation that came before it, the Generation X. Yes, the irony isn’t lost on most: calling the previous generation the ‘Ex’ generation. Because the millennials show the promise to change the world and the rules that govern it, and they are changing it – one brunch at a time.

But first, a bit of history.

History: how did the term originate?
The term millennials isn’t all that new-fangled. Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe coined the term way back in 1987. This was when kids born in 1982 were entering preschool, and everyone around was talking about them being the high school graduating class of 2000, the first of the millennium.

Other names were tossed around too, Generation Y, or Gen Y, but nothing stuck as beautifully as millennials. They are sometimes also referred to as Echo Boomers, the offspring of the baby boomers. Psychologist Jean Twenge even went on to call them the ‘Generation Me’. No cookies for guessing why.

Generation We, Generation Next, Global Generation, The Net Generation and The Burnout Generation are some of the other not-so-flattering monikers that this group of individuals has got for itself. These snowflakes (as some are wont to call them) are considered to be entitled but they have time and again shown greater resilience than the middle-aged generation. How many 20-somethings have been seen screaming for the manager when their sale coupon expired a few days back? And of course they are bound to be miffed when they see someone drawing a 6-figure salary unable to comprehend how to rotate a PDF!

But yes, we still believe that they are a misunderstood and misjudged lot. They are not slackers (not all of them) and there is a lot that the earlier generation needs to learn from them too.

Present Day Scenario
Millennials are confident and tolerant, but we have to take that with a healthy dose of narcissism. They are the selfie generation after all, aren’t they? But come on, haven’t we seen enough older people stopping to smell the roses and taking selfies while doing so? But no one labeled them narcissistic, now, did they?

What is the truth? Surveys taken over various groups of millennials have in fact shown that this generation is less narcissistic than the earlier one; and that levels of narcissism are gradually going down. According to psychologist Jeffery Arnett, millennials ‘are exceptionally generous and show great promise to make the world a better place’. And we all know how badly we need that!

So where did the assumption come from?

Millennials have been known to make more personal improvement commitments than any generation before them. They spend twice as much as their parents did on self-care essentials, such as diets plans, workout regimes, therapy, life coaching, spas, and apps that can improve their well-being. That makes them self-obsessed? We think not. In fact, we all could do with a little more self-love, couldn’t we?

Further studies expand this glimmer of hope even more. Millennials are predicted to be the first generation in years to become more civic minded, with a strong sense of community, local as well as global. One just needs to cast around for the numerous innovations that are being built to cater to the grassroots of the world to believe in that prediction. They are the avocado-on-toast munching kids who espouse the values of going vegan and saving the polar bears, all in one breath.

The millennial in the workplace
It is in the worker millennials who are often sneered at by the earlier generation. Generation X prided itself on putting work first and laid strong emphasis on loyalty, steady career, work ethics and compensation. It simply cannot handle a new wave of workers that demands work-life balance and a preference for a flat corporate culture. These new kids on the block want meaningful work, a creative outlet and immediate feedback. As they continue to seek greater meaning in what they do, their career paths are dynamic and unpredictable. In the words of the earlier generation – inconsistent, unreliable, erratic and picky. But on the flip side, when they do find the one thing that they are passionate about, they will keep at it until it kills them. After all, YOLO!

Conclusion
Face it, though, being carefree and stress-free is something we all could benefit from. But as a passing jibe, here’s what someone quipped about the millennials on the unforgiving www – “There should be a millennial edition of the Monopoly game, where you just walk around the board paying rent, never being able to buy anything.”

Why do we all love Dilbert so much?

Inspiring Stories

30 April 2019

Why do we all love Dilbert so much?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Who hasn’t heard of Dilbert! Whether you are an engineer or not, Dilbert gets you, right? And that’s what makes it one of the most popular corporate comic strips out there. Conceptualised and created in the US, this comic strip of Dilbert and his office mates understands and lightens the gripes of working-class people across the globe.

Dilbert captures classic mismanagement and workplace inefficiency beautifully, bringing it to life through a bunch of characters that are lazy, holding on tenuously to their middle management positions. These ‘dysfunctional time-wasters’ suffer from the baffling vagaries of upper management but never openly complain. Perhaps that’s what makes them so relatable to most and it helps us all swallow the bitter corporate pill easily.

No one really knows why Dilbert works, but it does and that’s all that matters. Let’s see how the creator of the comic strip got around to creating it.

About Scott Adams
Scott Adams was born in 1957 to a postal clerk and a real estate agent. The middle child with two siblings, he was a fan of the Peanuts comics and by the age of 6 was already drawing his own comics. Once school and college was out of the way he joined the corporate world in 1979 and worked as a management trainee, computer programmer, commercial lender, budget analyst, product manager and a supervisor. All these positions and the countless dealings he had with numerous people gave him fodder for Dilbert and he started the strip while still working. Submissions to various publications met with a dead-end but it was an encouraging letter from a fan that kept Adams going.

It was in 1989 when he was working for Pacific Bell that Dilbert was first published by United Media. It was also while working here that he encountered various personalities who went on to become the characters in his strip.

The history of Dilbert – from then to now
The comic strip originally revolved only around Dilbert and his pet dog Dogbert in their home. The early plots mostly highlighted Dilbert’s engineer nature and his bizarre inventions, and some told the audience about his megalomaniacal ambitions.

Later Adams decided to shift the location to Dilbert’s workplace in Silicon Valley and the comic strip began to parody technology, workplace, and typical company issues. This gave the strip more impetus and its fan base started to grow rapidly as more people could relate to the humour.

In Dilbert’s world, bureaucracy and office politics hamper everything, including productivity, and employees’ skills and efforts are not rewarded; in fact, simply appearing to be ‘busy’ is praised. The audience is appreciative of the humorous situations where characters take ridiculous decisions that are natural reactions to mismanagement.

Perhaps the appeal is of what cannot be acted out in the real world which finds its release through this comic strip.

Top characters
Dilbert, the main character, is a skilled engineer but socially inept, with a poor romantic life.

Besides Dilbert there is the Pointy-haired boss, unnamed so that most people can see their own boss in him. He is unimaginably incompetent and compensates for his lack of ability by organising group sessions and strategy meetings that usually never go anywhere. He does not understand technology and he always tries to disguise it, ineffectively. He isn’t sadistic, just uncaring, and uses his employees to his need, without bothering about what happens to them.

Then there’s Wally, an employee who walks around calmly drinking coffee through all the upheavals of a corporate setting. He hates work and will work hard to find ways to avoid doing anything. He is even more socially useless than Dilbert but isn’t aware of it. Wally was originally conceptualised as a worker looking for a severance package but now just hangs around as part of Dilbert characters.

Alice is a competent and hardworking employee who doesn’t feel adequately recognised. While she blames it on her gender, it is most likely because of her short temper, even with the Pointy-haired boss.

Dogbert, Dilbert’s anthropomorphic pet dog, is a highly intelligent megalomaniac who comes in and out of the strip as a high-ranking consultant or technical support. He is cynical but at times has pulled his master out of tight spots.

Catbert is the evil director of human resources who was supposed to play a cameo once. But the audiences loved him so much that he came back as the HR director.

Asok is immensely intelligent but naïve about corporate culture. He is optimistic and the strip shatters his illusions frequently. He is obviously Indian and has graduated from one of the IITs.

Elbonia is an underdeveloped, made-up country that is a reflection of any country as seen by typical Americans.

Dilbert merchandise
Dilbert is a highly successful comic strip that appears online and in 2000 newspapers and magazines in 65 countries and 25 languages. The popularity has seen many merchandise opportunities spawn off the original brand. There are computer games, hand-held card games, board games, video games and calendars. Besides these obvious merchandise choices, there is also a vegan microwave burrito that comes in four flavours, a limited-edition ice cream flavour, and a line of Dilbert mints.

Dilbert goes digital
In 1995, Dilbert decided to go online. It was the first syndicated comic strip that was published for free on the internet. Adams puts his email address in each strip, creating a ‘direct channel to customers’ which allows him to make changes to the strip based on their feedback.

In April 2008, Adams took this collaboration a step further by announcing an interactive feature on Dilbert.com which would allow fans to write speech bubbles themselves. This, according to Adams, ‘makes cartooning a competitive sport’.

Whatever the future holds for Dilbert, it can safely be said that this strip has had a massive influence on many webcomics that followed it and helped establish the ‘nerdcore’ genre.

What can we learn from Bill Gates, the world’s richest man?

Inspiring Stories

15 April 2019

What can we learn from Bill Gates, the world’s richest man?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

From humble beginnings to setting up a software empire, his empire has changed the world as we know it and made him worth $89 billion when he stepped down as CEO.

One of the most popular entrepreneurs of all time, Bill Gates is better known as the prodigy who started the technology revolution by launching a software company after dropping out of Harvard in 1974.

His success at Microsoft has earned him the title of one of the richest men in the world. We’ve put together a few of his leadership lessons that we believe can help your business grow

#1 Do not get distracted by success

Bill Gates has said “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”.

It is but human to get carried away by success, especially when it comes easily, and keeps coming. But that’s not the case with Bill Gates. He never allowed his success to cloud his business judgements. He lacks overconfidence and understands that success cannot supersede business ethics. Yes, he does attribute his initial success as the stepping stone for future triumphs, but he was always prepared for the psychological challenges that success can bring.

#1 Have a vision

Gates never let his role at Microsoft define him. He dreams big, and he dreams beyond the immediate. He kept beating competition because at every point, he kept dreaming bigger and beyond and stayed a step ahead of the rest. He has a rich philanthropic life and that also contributes to his success in his primary career. He is more involved in society at large than just as a software supplier, and that makes it easy to follow him as a leader.

#1 Doesn’t hurt to rate yourself a little higher

Did you know that the contract that established Microsoft was proposed in the air? When Bill told Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) that he could develop an interpreter for microcomputers, he was overrating himself; he had never done that before. But he was ready to go the extra mile to get it done. Gates and his partner, Allen, worked hard to get the interpreter ready within a few weeks after MITS expressed its interest in their proposal. The result of that effort today is Microsoft.

#1 Be ready to embrace failure

You’ve started your business to be successful, but entrepreneurship comes with its set of challenges. Too much success, for too long, can make anyone complacent and even arrogant about their abilities. Remember that no one is invincible and you should always be prepared for rough patches. Don’t let those bog you down. Instead, get back up, dust yourself and learn from them.

#1 Value time

Gates has said, “no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time”. He values every minute of his day and plans his daily activities to ensure the most important tasks never get left undone. He will not attend meetings that don’t really need him. He is immensely successful today, but he knows that he has the same number of hours as everyone else, and has still retained the same value for time as before.

#1 Do your own thing, and be good at it

Every one of us starts with inspiration; some of us even continue to be inspired throughout our careers. However, remember that there is a thin but distinct line between being inspired and trying to replicate what someone else has done. Find your own brand voice and identity to ensure that you stand out among competition.

Gates joined a computer club at 13 and he realised he’d found his calling. He spent hours teaching himself how to program, and with his dedication and foresight turned his passion into a billion-dollar business, something that not many people had believed was possible at that time.

#1 Stop feeling sorry for yourself

“Life is not fair; get used to it.”, Bill Gates. Let’s face it; things are not always going to go your way. And not everything is in your control. You might make a mistake, or the industry might suffer a slowdown. There are very few companies that have grown without facing their share of serious problems. What matters is how you respond to this crisis. Use the negative situation as a learning curve and look for ways to control damage. Perhaps your business can adapt to the situation and come out of it better and stronger.

#1 Care for other people

Bill Gates’ leadership role is not limited to his success alone or that of his team members, but he works hard to ensure that others grow too. His leadership comes through very strongly in his philanthropy and humanitarianism efforts. To sustain his goals, he, along with Melinda Gates, founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization focused on saving lives and improving global health. He believes that his life’s accomplishments would mean less if his energy and talent cannot be used to improve other lives and society at large.

Conclusion

You might have noticed that all the leadership lessons are marked #1. (Did you just go back to check?) That’s because we believe every single one of these points is a valuable instruction and neither one can be rated better than any other. What do you make of these? Do write to us and tell us which one resonated with you the most.