buzzword bingo word cloud

Go on, admit it: considering how many business buzzwords you know, you have already played buzzword bingo at least once in your “corporate life”.

You haven’t?

Well, maybe it’s time to start playing!


We have prepared some buzzwords for you. We have added their meaning, their origins, and some examples of how to use them in context. So you know what you are talking about.

We have also sprinkled some tech buzzwords to spice up your reading.

Fun Fact: The Origins of Bingo

A similar game was played as far back as 1530 in Italy.

The modern version was created by Hugh J. Ward in the early 1920s and was further popularized by Erwin Lowe. The name seems to be due to one of Lowe’s friends who yelled “Bingo!” when she won.


Playing buzzword bingo can be fun, but when you’re the one doing the presentation, you might want to avoid them (for the less funny situation when your colleagues decided to play the game without letting you know).

It’s not that you really want to use buzzwords instead of meaningful words, but sometimes you don’t know a good synonym for the buzzword.

We have started the list of buzzwords with our “pet peeves”: agile, proactive, and pivot. We will keep adding buzzwords to the list, so bookmark the article, you never know when you’ll find a “golden nugget”.


Let the Buzzword Bingo Begin!



Origin: From Latin agilis, from agere “to drive, be in motion, do, perform” + -ilis

First use: 14th century

Original Meaning:
– marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace an agile dancer
– having a quick resourceful and adaptable character an agile mind
– quick, smart, and clever

Origin of the buzzword:  It was first used as part of the software development methodologies usually based on incremental and iterative development, and who adopted the Agile Manifesto (2001). Since then the meaning expanded to incorporate all the areas of a business and the company itself.

Playing the agile buzzword bingo. Some examples:
– agile software development
– agile leader
– agile buzzword bingo
– agile management practices
– organizational agility
– IT, marketing, or supply chain agility

You can replace the agile buzzword with:
– Accelerate the activities on the critical path
– React quickly
– Respond quickly to threats
– Learn and adapt fast
– Be quick to change the business models when needed
– Execute strategy faster than the competition
– Keep innovating
– Be quick to respond to customer feed-back
– Be able to anticipate change and implement it quickly
– Initiate action



Origin: relating to, caused by, or being interference between previous learning and the recall or performance of later learning (e.g. proactive inhibition of memory).

First use: 1933

Origin of the buzzword:  Until recently, the word reactive (as in people who tend to react to a problem only when it’s gotten serious) didn’t have an antonym.

Proactive was coined to describe the opposite of a reactive person.

In this sense, it means a person who is always looking into the future and acting in anticipation of future problems, needs and changes.

Playing the proactive buzzword bingo. Some examples:
– to take proactive steps to improve a situation
– a proactive approach
– a proactive attitude
– being proactive in finding answers to an important issue

What you can say instead:
– far-seeing
– forward-looking
– visionary
– discerning
– insightful
– sage
– wise



1: a shaft or pin on which something turns
2: a person, thing, or factor having a major or central role, function, or effect; a key player or position
3: the action of pivoting; especially : the action in basketball of stepping with one foot while keeping the other foot at its point of contact with the floor

First use: 14th century

Origin of the buzzword:  Pivot has been used in the buzzword form starting from 2008 when Eric Ries published his famous bestselling book The Lean Startup.

It means “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth“.

It implies not only a change of direction but more a sudden, rapid change of direction and focus. It implies that the company is essentially abandoning its previous efforts in order to make a concerted effort towards a new goal.

Translated: when plan A doesn’t work, it’s time for plan B.

Or, as Steve Blank puts it: “changing (or even firing) the plan instead of the executive (the sales exec, marketing or even the CEO)

As seen in:
– pivot a business model
– pivot or persevere
– startup pivot

What to say instead: If you had enough of “pivot”, you can replace it with:

The initial idea (project, business model or test) didn’t work, it’s time to try something else.

You may also like

quotes on change management

Quotes on Change Management from 15 Famous Change Makers

A collection of 15 wise change management quotes from some of the most well-known change...
Leadership Books - The Busy Lifestyle

5 of the Best Leadership Books – Older but Not Obsolete

When you choose the next book to read, do you choose the newest and shiniest...
Lean manufacturing principles

From Lean Manufacturing to Lean (Almost) Everything

You can argue that the Lean Manufacturing concept had its glory days, and that there are a lot of limitations to it (some of them resulting from our own limited understanding of the fundamentals of the concept), but still: it’s not all bad.

For those who still wonder what lean manufacturing is

Lean manufacturing (or lean) is a systematic way of reducing waste while continuously improving the quality of the product, in accordance with the values desired by the customer.  

The origin of lean manufacturing

Surprisingly, Henry Ford was not the initiator of the lean manufacturing.

The origins of lean manufacturing go back as far as 1450s at the Arsenal in Venice.

In the modern era, Henry Ford brought back to life the idea of integrated manufacturing processes, by standardizing the parts and the sub-processes involved, and creating the “flow production” – the (in)famous assembly lines.

The lack of variety in his product-offering was one of the reasons Ford’s model worked so well.

As soon as companies were trying to add some variety in their production processes, this model started to show its limits.

Taiichi Ono and Kiichiro Toyoda were those who found a way to put the two elements together: increased product complexity without compromising the quality of the final product and insuring the continuity in the process flow.

They called their invention the Toyota Production System.

James P. Womack analyzed the thought process that created the lean concept in The Machine That Changed the World.


The 5 Lean Manufacturing Principles

Later, in his other book Lean Thinking, he identified the 5 lean principles as follows:

1. Identifying and defining the value desired by the customer

2. Mapping the value stream (and trying to eliminate the waste-generating process steps)  
time management tips

Time Management Tips – 19 Busy Leaders Share Theirs

You're doing a good job managing your busy schedule. You know by now a lot of time management tips and tricks. But there are moments when you feel like you could do an even better job if you knew how to improve your time management techniques.

So you start reading books. The books give you the time management tips, strategies and resources you are looking for. And they even work, sometimes, and most of the times, not that much.


But there is still this nagging question:

What is the time management tip that could make your time management strategy the perfect one?

What do others do? What do busy leaders do? How do they manage their time to be able to balance their personal and professional lives? By adding more value to their lives and professional activities.


We have asked 19 business leaders and entrepreneurs these 2 questions:

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

They will be talking about business development, understanding the needs of their customers, networking, reading, learning, improving themselves so they can better improve their business, "me" time, family time, quiet time, "off-the-grid" time, health, balance, and, quite unexpected from busy people, physical exercise.


Because the answer might be that, instead of squizing more activities inside your day, you should be selective with the activities you focus your attention on. And by selecting the most important activities, and doing them on a regular basis, you could add more value to your life and professional activity, than by just mindlessly adding more activities to your to-do list.

Think of this as time management tips with a twist.


1. Susan Goldsworthy

Founder, Goldswolf & Associates

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

Continuous, connected, curious learning - gifts from caring, daring & sharing with others.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

3Ms - Mini Mindfulness Moments


2. Guillaume Pahud

CEO and Founder, Dot Stories

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

The main activity that brings value to the company is the social media - posting, looking at what people and prospects are saying online.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

I go out and run - I try to stay fit and go out running a few times per week.


3. Arnaud Barray

Ambassador and Partner, uKonect

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

I think about our product and what problems we are solving for our customers. It helps me to make sure we have a market and to see if our product is fit to answer the needs of our users.

B. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your life?

The activity that I do on a regular basis is networking. Whether online or through events or meetings you learn from people and it is a way to improve yourself and your business. Meeting new people will always bring us more opportunities.


4. Tafsir Ba

Co-Founder, Wild Dots

A. What is the activity that you do on a regular basis that adds value to your company?

The biggest problem I face is the fact that, too often, one ends up drifting into non added value tasks that drown resources without generating opportunities.

Entrepreneur mindset - the busy lifestyle

Entrepreneur Mindset: You Fight Stress by Knowing Its Sources

The entrepreneur mindset is a way of life. It's not easy going, it's not glamouros. It's fulfilling, but it's also incredibly stressful.

Stress as an entrepreneur is different from stress in the office, but it's stress nevertheless.

If you are an entrepreneur, you already know entrepreneurs are stressed too. You might have been experiencing all of them by now (and some more). Even if your entrepreneurial mindset says you can cope with it, sometime it's worth identifying where stress is coming from, so you can better fight it.

For those dreaming about an idyllic life as a start-up entrepreneur, the reality is a little different. The purpose of this post is not to dissuade you from becoming an entrepreneur. It's just a warning sign for what lies ahead.


This is article is also meant to be a warning sign for those who dream about becoming an entrepreneur one day.

It might be a good idea to compare the sources of stress in the office and the sources of stress for an entrepreneur. Before jumping ship, ideally.


1. Financial matters

Finding funding, collecting receivables, payroll, burn rate, cash flow.

All are very well known expressions for the entrepreneur. And also, all are very well known sources of stress.


2. Sales issues

And all the factors affecting sales: economic downturn, a customer loss, finding new customers, dealing with demanding customers, etc.