ConsultantSpeak is Oftentimes Doublespeak, or Worse

I often walk away from meetings with consultants shaking my head. “What did they just say?” I’ll ask myself. Other times, I’ll suddenly come to a dead stop on the stroll back to my office and realize that nothing of any import at all was discussed. That’s because many consultants, especially strategy consultants, speak a foreign language. It’s a highly complex language that rivals Japanese or Mandarin and comes replete with buzz words like synergy and symbiotic. ConsultantSpeak sounds cool, sleek and sophisticated. But, it’s almost always lacking in substance.

You know what’s even worse, though? When ConsultantSpeak words or phrases aren’t even used correctly. Take the phrase “quantum leap,” for example. Consultants adore it. They cherish it. And, they’ll almost always use it to tout a new product or “solution set” (more buzz words, by the way). “We perceive the new FD-3000 as taking a quantum leap over the competition,” they’ll beam. Well, guess what? According to basic science terms, a quantum leap is anything but. In fact, it rarely means a large change and can, in fact, be synonymous with little or no change whatsoever:

“In real physical systems a quantum leap is not necessarily a large change, and can in fact be very insignificant. A good example of this can be taken from the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom, where the observed energy shifts associated with shifts of different quantum states (quantum leaps) span a wide range from large to small (when compared to the energy required to completely free an electron). In the popular sense, the term is usually applied to mean a large or significant change, which is thus not strictly correct.”

So, the next time you’re wallowing in a conference room surrounded by consultants spouting words and phrases like epoch-making, change agent and shifting sands, listen up for the “Q” word and correct the speaker. It’ll rock their systematic synthesizing of the socialized status quo. More importantly, it’ll make you feel good.

Thanks to Darryl Salerno for the idea.

One thought on “ConsultantSpeak is Oftentimes Doublespeak, or Worse

  1. I just learned that in class last semester and I thought it was weird that for some reason people think “quantum leap” means really big,