Status Go breaks the business jargon habit

Group Somewhere beneath all the “best-in-class” ways to generate “value adds” — or the “action plans” that will be real “game changers” and get everyone “on the same page” — there’s a real idea for how to make a business run better. It shouldn’t be too much to ask a consultant or business partner to spit it out in language that’s clear, concise and easy for the whole team to quickly understand.

As Grant Thornton’s CEO, I visit with a lot of leaders of our clients and prospects, and I often hear complaints about all the jargon in the business world today. They tell me that when some of their consultants talk or send in their reports, they’re not always sure they understand what the consultant is saying. There’s an endless jumble of big, fancy words and ready-made phrases. But the client wants to know what the real problem is and what the team is actually going to do. And they want to know it in plain English !

Most used corporate jargon To understand the prevalence of jargon in the business community, we created the Grant Thornton Jargon Index. In just the first quarter of 2018, we identified more than 1 million uses of 124 corporate jargon terms that appeared on company websites, and in traditional and social media. As accountants, we were, of course, compelled to rank them by usage, which generated some interesting insights. Check out the entire list to see if you recognize any frequent phrases of your own.

I actually found quite a few items on the list that I’m guilty of using. From “customer-centric” to “low-hanging fruit” to “core competencies,” we all sometimes use rhetorical shorthand to get a point across. And that’s no crime. The problem starts when we allow tired, vague, made-up language to substitute for well-expressed, original ideas.

In a business world where change happens fast and teams need to quickly agree about what’s going on and how to act with speed, there’s no time for imprecise language or #businessjargon. As business partners to our clients, we need to listen intently and then respond in plain language with great ideas that move the team forward.

That bias for insight, clarity and action is a big part of our culture at Grant Thornton — and it’s an important part of what we mean by #StatusGo. We are all making an effort to be more aware of our worst language habits — and “move the needle” toward Status Go language and better results for our clients and teammates.


Mike McGuire Mike McGuire
T: +1 704 632 6788