Jargon Watch: Buckets, Not Silos
| Peter Klein |
I’ve never liked the term “silo,” as used in business administration to describe closed spaces like functional areas, research topics, or approaches. “Economists and sociologists need to come out of their silos and work together.” What are we, sacks of grain? Intercontinental ballistic missles? I long for simpler and less pretentious terms like “areas” or “topics.”
From Tuesday’s WSJ we now learn that silos are out. The new preferred term is buckets. Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris says that ethanol “doesn’t help the conservation efficiency bucket — it helps the diversity of supply bucket.” Cingular Wireless thinks its new rate plan helps customers “dig into their big bucket of night and weekend minutes.” Is the combined India and US market best conceived “as a whole, or as two buckets?” asks a Citigroup analyst. Why do such silly terms proliferate?
Readers are invited to supply their own favorite examples of business and academic jargon. Perhaps we can hold a contest to choose the silliest.