Engage All Parties? Leverage? Seven Painfully Overused Words in Procurement

This post, written by Jonathan Messinger, originally appeared on Public Spend Forum

For a little pre-holiday fun, I thought it might be interesting to figure out what words are overused in procurement. Of course, I could very easily have polled our readers, LinkedIn contacts and our staff in the Spend Matters/Public Spend Forum family, but in an attempt to be as rigorous as possible, I decided to run a textual analysis on procurement articles and white papers instead. I took about 50 procurement white papers, and ungodly amount of text from procurement- and supply-related publications, and fed them through the wringer, to call forth the worst offenders.

Now, aside from the data crunching, it did take some sifting: We can hardly proclaim that the word “contract” is overused, since that’s what the business is about. Instead, I was looking for the words that get tossed out there when either another word would do, or to disguise a lack of meaning. Here they are:

  1. Innovation. This was an easy one. The overuse of “innovate” has become so rampant that the Wall Street Journal was even forced to put it in the context of Pop Tarts. Instead of talking about innovating, which should be reserved for truly monumental changes, we should dial back the hyperbole. When was the last time you heard something described as “innovative,” and it wasn’t something you’d seen a dozen times before? And -2 Experience Points if you put “Innovator” on your résumé or LinkedIn profile.
  2. Engage. Perhaps the single blandest word in the English language, ”engage” vacates all meaning from a sentence quicker than you can say, “Let’s engage all parties"...


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