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Parlez Vous MBAis?

By       Message Uzi Silber     Permalink
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Parlez vous MBAise?  If you don't, do yourself a favor and drop that Mandarin immersion course like a hot eggroll: MBAise (rhymes with Francaise) is the language to master. It's absolutely essential for promotion at any self-respecting Fortune 100 corporation in this third millennium.


I work for a big, rich insurance company where de rigueur powerpoint presentations are attended by articulate, smartly dressed, corporately quaffed women and suited and necktied men almost all spectacularly fluent in MBAise.  And while I possess a general understanding of the goings-on at such power meetings, I remain hopelessly old school, arriving into professional life at a time when Standard English use in business communication sufficed.


Still, one would expect that years of corporate exposure under my expanding belt would have armed me with a more impressive command of MBAise than what the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale classifies as "Elementary Proficiency'.


MBAise bears a passing resemblance to Esperanto, the artificial international language dreamed up in the 19th Century by L.L. Zamenhof, in a pioneering effort to globalize the world and tear down its linguistic barriers.  Zamenhof dreamed of enabling the citizens of widely disparate countries to communicate, inspired perhaps by the ability of Hebrew speaking Jews to transcend geography, whether they lived in Antwerp, Jerusalem, Tabriz or Vladivostok.


Behold the new Esperanto: platoons of ambitious, take-charge business school alums with little real world experience rotate confidently through our company's departments spouting a dialect unintelligible to multitudes of Boomers and even Gen-Xers who actually assumed that mastery of the mother tongue would have provided them a professional leg-up.  And despite my exposure to this ersatz tongue, my head still spins in my swivel chair during marathon business meetings.


Such a long-table gathering invariably opens with a purposeful post-grad  in starched white collar 'speaking to' the projected slide on the wall, while another seated across the table urges us to 'reach out' to the 'core team' of 'key stakeholders' responsible for 'sharing' 'business argument deliverables' "to the extent that' any 'pain-point' is resolved and every 'touch-point' identified in the 'value proposition'.


'Ideating', points out another, provides the framework for 'test and learns', which beget 'granular learnings' and 'concept testing' that 'drive the process' to 'leverage points along the critical path' to assess 'segment penetration' whereby the 'sales funnel' is populated, leading inexorably to 'getting the right expectations in place' 'going forward', fully cognizant that 'branding opportunities are highly generalized'.


Not so fast, cautions a fourth participant, goateed and bespectacled: 'front-ending the business arguments' could complicate the construction of a 'robust psychographic persona' and slow the 'timetable to embedding the scalable process' which could very well leave 'futureproofing the existing strategy' to another 'task force' and needlessly consume 'social capital'.  The meeting invariably ends at a time earlier proclaimed by one of the attendees as a 'hardstop'.


Get on the MBAise bandwagon: some time ago, an MBAise-fluent manager pronounced a colleague of mine entirely unfit for promotion, and that an impossibly "wide chasm' separated her professional level from the one immediately above.  For months I tried to understand how this manager could have arrived so blithely at such a verdict -- after all she'd never worked with my colleague and couldn't have known how fabulously talented she was.  But then it dawned on me: could it be that an Ivy League English Lit degree couldn't compensate for MBAaise illiteracy?


Attention executives: in today's fraught business environment, mastery of the emergent lingua franca is the key to professional survival, if not success.  Enroll in an MBAise crash course today -- or risk utter obsolescence.


You say no such course exists? No worries: the textbook does: it's called the Harvard Business Review.  Diligently cited and mouthed word for sacred word by business school graduates worldwide much as Madrasa students recite the Koran, the HBR provides all the empty nomenclature and pseudo jargon necessary to amaze your friends and bobble the heads of managers and cohorts up and down the corporate food chain.   No need to unite, workers of the world.  Just make sure you're fluent in the new global business pidgin, and you'll surely soar.  Or at least get by.

 

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Uzi Silber writes the 'Jew's Muse' column in Ha'aretz. His work also appears in The Forward, Jerusalem Post, and The New York Times.

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