(Operationalize is an annoying business term and is just one of the 212 Most Annoying Business Phrases Managers Effuse, Confuse, and Overuse detailed in the hilarious must-have guide for every workplace: The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room. Available right now on Amazon.)
Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s not annoying when your manager utters it.
Operationalize feels like a bastardization of the English language… because it is… at least when your manager uses it.
Operationalize is verb that simply means to put something into operation. When used in this manner, our ears don’t bleed. However, when the boss wants to operationalize a team or a department or a project – when that team, department, or project is already in operation – the meaning is muddy, at best.
Is he saying he wants to motivate a team, reorganize a department, or rethink a project?
Who knows? (Probably not even him.)
Sometimes your boss means conceptualize or create; sometimes he means define or build; sometimes he means leverage or scale. Again, who knows?
Like most of the annoying jargon in this book, operationalize is one of those words annoying bosses love to appropriate… and never discard. At first, he likely used operationalize in the proper context. Then, over time, you heard operationalize spewing from his mouth at every turn.
Everything needed to be operationalized. He begins to speak of the need to operationalize the breakroom, the phone system, the organizational chart, and the bathrooms! In fact, nothing is beyond the need for operationalization – even those things running smoothly.
Perhaps, we’ll argue, it’s time to operationalize common sense speech from our leaders.
We could all live happier with that usage, right?
Replacement phrases: If you mean operationalize, then okay; otherwise, say what you mean!
See also: Action Item
The 30,000-Pound Gorilla in the Room is available on Amazon