“The economy of bullshit” – on business jargon and how work can be more fun

In this HBR article (Link), the author discusses the question: if we all hate business jargon so much, why do we keep using it? Hidden in the middle of this long-ish article is an absolute gold-nugget of a concept, the “economy of bullshit”. He says that addressing empty business buzzwords doesn’t change the culture to a more meaningful exchange, it’s basically just scratching the surface. Instead, he proposes to focus each job itself, the act of starting new initiatives, or discussions around new ideas or plans on the real value that they bring. The result is that it becomes less worthwhile to engage in empty talk, empty projects, or empty meetings. It’s an interesting read and has some really good hands-on recommendations.

At Bayer, I feel that it really depends on the setting how we do with jargon and empty tasks. I’ve been in meetings where people, including myself, almost couldn’t contain their excitement for the topic that we were working on. I’ve also been in meetings where most of the participants, including myself, had their laptops open and were mostly spaced out. Imagine that – a couple of highly qualified people bored out of their mind, what a waste.

I know that we keep saying that we need everyone at work to bring in their full attention, their energy, their creativity, and their focus to get the best results. It makes sense from a business perspective, but that’s apparently not always a convincing reason to work towards it: Otherwise, we would only see great meetings. For me, the most compelling reason to look for that sweet spot is that work is just plain more fun if I am that energized about an idea that I really, really want to work on it.

Now, finding the things that allow me to be in that spot where work is fun, that’s a completely different challenge and an ongoing struggle. There’s so many different factors involved if your answer is not a love for Excel spreadsheets (you do you, I won’t judge), and at least for me, none of them are something I can point at and say “that needs to be my job”.

Did you find your sweet spot before? I’d love to hear about it!