Monthly Archives: August 2011

Weasel Word Wednesday #24 – core

I was a little surprised to see the words “ASIA IS CORE” shouting from the front cover of this month’s MIS* magazine.

Core? Core of what? Core to what? Nope, just core. Could be worse I guess. It could be KEY.

I’m sure it’s a quote from the ANZ bank executive featured on the cover, but that’s no excuse for printing it.

There are some wonderful uses of the word ‘core’, especially in science and nature. Take ‘apple core’, the molten core of the earth and so on. It’s also nice used to mean something central to something else, for example, ‘the core of the problem’.  In the technology sector, there are plenty of terms containing ‘core’ that I figure are mostly acceptable because they’re widely understood industry or technical terms, such as ‘core banking systems’ and computer processor ‘cores’. However, more often it’s unnecessary management speak, and unfortunately it has spread to schools and other public services. Here are some alternatives to common business uses of ‘core’:

Core values = values

Core skills = skills, or perhaps basic skills or essential skills?

Core customers = customers

Core business = our business, what we do.

There’s a fantastic advertisement running on TV in Tasmania at the moment, where one of the family members who runs Wyllie Tiles (perhaps unsurprisingly, they sell tiles) declares that his parents taught him that “tiles are our core business.” Really? It’s good thing airtime is so cheap in Tasmania, it means they can afford to waste it.

* For the non-technology industry folk – MIS or ‘managing information systems’ is a good quality business technology magazine aimed at chief information offices and other senior technology executives. It’s published by Fairfax as part of the Financial Review group of publications.