We’ve all been in meetings before and witnessed that one person who simply cannot keep his or her mouth shut. Whether trying to make a good impression, score a promotion or simply impress everyone with $.50 words, these people dump long-winded, trite and clichéd business terminology in your ear at every opportunity.

Businessman with sticky tape on his mouth

While this is a pain to endure during a regular meeting, it’s actually quite dangerous during your strategic planning session. Far too often, these sessions are replete with hackneyed language. You will hear things like “core competency,” “let’s talk about it off-line,” “and “paradigm shift” until your ears ache.

But what do these phrases actually mean? Typically far from representing anything actionable, they are more indicative of an individual (or a team) that don’t have a clue what your credit union must do to craft a successful strategic plan. So, instead of admitting that, they stuff the air with a bunch of fancy words.

With that in mind, I suggest framing your next strategic planning session with a list of language and jargon that are banned from use at the table. Get these in the hands of your strategic planning team before the first day of the session. Feel free to customize this list with your own disliked corporate crutch-phrases.

Words/Phrases That Shall Not Be Spoken 

  • Let’s kick the can down the road
  • Level the playing field
  • Putting lipstick on a pig
  • Where the rubber meets the road
  • Punch a puppy (actually heard someone say this and had to ask what it meant. Turns out it refers to something terrible that you don’t really want to do but feel you must do for the good of the credit union)
  • Synergy, synergize, syner-anything (ugh)

Instead, insist your team use frank, precise and simple language to help guide the strategic planning process. Your credit union is not well served by a bunch of vocabulary smoke and mirrors. Your best bet is to approach the strategic planning session with respectful, sincere and simplistic language.

And don’t ever say “punch a puppy.” That’s just awful.