Stupid uses of “solution”

Photograph of truck with sign on side: Crawford Tree Solutions Pty Ltd 0417 871 471

Pet gripe: the use of the word “solution” in (originally) the IT industry and now, seemingly, everywhere.

Wikipedia doesn’t give it it’s own page, merely saying:

In business, a solution is a product, service, or combination of both which is said to solve a business or consumer’s problem; the term is often considered an overused and unimaginative buzzword.

So when I saw this truck (pictured) in Stanmore yesterday afternoon I wondered, “WFT is a ‘tree solution’?”

I assume this guy is an arborist, or “tree surgeon”. The former ain’t great marketing in the 21st Century ‘cos it’s latinesque, but I can live with the latter — after all, he’s a bloke what cuts down or fixes trees, yeah?

Other annoying buzzwords for me: “business ecology”, “DNA” (when used to talk about “our business’ DNA”), “space” and “Web 2.0”. Any others?

5 Replies to “Stupid uses of “solution””

  1. Just to expand on this point, I have no problem with words like “ecology” and “DNA” when used in the correct context — or even when they’re used as an accurate metaphor for whatever the user is talking about.

    F’rinstance, “business ecology” is actually a good metaphor. There’s big critters like IBM and Telstra and BHP Billiton, little critters like me and the corner shop at the end of the street, and all sorts of critters in between. Each depends on the other.

    If the corner shop goes broke, that’s another business phone line Telstra loses. The baker has one less customer. I have to walk further to get the milk, so 15 minutes fewer billable hours a few times a week. Conversely, Telstra’s actions affect the viability of that small business and others like it — as do the actions of every other big player. Everything is connected in a complex web of interrelationships. We all depend on each other. An ecology.

    However, most of the time I hear a manager talking about “business ecology”, they really just mean “our client” or “our suppliers”. They’re just using the word to flag that they’re read the latest business articles. Or to group-bond with their fellow thought-sheep.

  2. One reason I dislike the word “solution” when used this way is the arrogant assumption that they already know the answers to their clients’ problems.

    And of course in this example, “tree solutions” means nothing at all. Is it the removal or insertion of tree? Is it liquidised tree (as in tree IN solution)? …


  3. @Alastair: Do we need such a word? Why not just use a word that specifically describes what is being proposed in concrete terms? For example, instead of saying “We offer storage solutions”, why not just say “we offer managed data storage”?

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