[Editor’s Note: Worst Word of the Week is a regular GeekWire feature spotlighting the pretentious, unnecessarily complex, buzzword-laden, imprecise-but-precise-sounding language that plagues the tech industry. Read our introductory post for more background.]
This week’s worst word: Solution
Examples of (mis)use: Unfortunately, there are so many examples of this word’s misuse that I can’t begin to count them.
I think it used to be just a technology thing. Rather than offering software, or software-as-a-service, or consulting, tech companies began offering solutions. It sounded better to them, I guess. Multiple syllables and all that. I’ve even seen a website with a drop-down menu listing “Products” and, separately, “Solutions.” In vain I studied the entries under each of those two headings, trying to discern what kinds of items were included under which heading.
Then this once-innocent word spread outside technology into the world at large. Moving and transport companies don’t offer those services anymore. They offer logistics solutions.
It gets worse. Here’s a business-strategy site advocating that companies provide not just solutions but “integrated solution projects.”
Thank goodness I’ve never heard anyone talking about “solutioning,” as in, “Our vendor is solutioning that for us now.” I’d have to hang myself.
What it means: This is pretty clear. It means “a way of solving a problem.”
Why it’s the worst: Like so many other WWW candidates, “solution” means something, but not everything. Most people don’t think of the need to ship a package as a problem requiring a solution. It only requires a pick-up. If you’re truly selling some product, service, or combination that will eliminate what some buyer considers to be a problem, perhaps the word’s use is legitimate. Otherwise, it’s a lot humbler and more accurate to just say plainly what it is you’re selling or producing. Imagine the novelty!
I’ve got the emotional bandwidth to hate other words, so feel free to submit your favorite candidate to email@example.com. Don’t expect to see it here any time soon, though. There’s too much material I’ve already collected that’s making me seethe.