When your team culture becomes a cult

Avoiding cliques and clichés by using simple language.

A meeting is a meeting, a town hall is not a meeting.
A town hall is a building.
‘We don’t have hot-desking. But no-one has their own desk’ (example from Lego)
‘Multichannel’ describes my possible TV Guide selections at home…
“Oh, you don’t know what that means? Everyone else does”

Why would you want to use language that excludes people? I'm guessing that this is a subconscious decision.

The ability for everyone to understand a conversation becomes ever more important when working in teams made up of different skills and specialities.

Teams working together will build up a shared vocabulary — as terms are used and explained — a non-technical colleague asking for a simple explanation of unit testing for example.

The worst offenders in my experience are ‘developers’ and ‘managers’. Developers using the wealth of jargon available to them, and managers inventing as much as they can…

  • Developers using jargon when simpler terms could be used instead. No-one outside of the development team cares about which specific git command you used, but they might get a better understanding of how your work has impacted on the project if you explain simply what you've done and how you've done it.
  • Managers using a term to describe something that it is not. A good example is using agile as a buzzword, when the reality is far from agile.
  • Inventing a new term, when a perfectly usable and understandable term already exists.

There is a time and place for jargon, but in shared conversations — across a team of varying knowledge — it creates barriers and harms communication. It can make people feel like outsiders and create divisions where there needn't be any.

We want an open culture, where everyone can work together.
There should be no outsiders.