While surfing the web the other day, I came across a company, the website of which said this, in part:

[We provide] world-class solutions for tools-based modernization solutions.

No. I’m not making that up for the purpose of making a point.

Like innovation, solutions and solution are words that have extended their lives of over-use (everything’s a solution), sweeping generalization (the Wagner Power Painter vs. the cogent point), and laziness (jargon vs. sense) unto meaninglessness.

In fact, solutions and solution are the source of two distinct dilemmas:

  1.  Definition: Solutions and solution can no longer be defined with any substantive degree of precision or clarity. If you doubt that, please write a comment below to explain decisively what this sentence means: “We provide solutions for companies looking to explore a new solution to replace their old solution with new solutions for their old solutions.” (If that sentence is too complicated, cut yourself some slack and try this one: “[We provide] world-class solutions for tools-based modernization solutions.” Good luck.)
  2. Recourse: Once you’ve identified your offering as a solution, you are — by definition and necessity — locked in to a search for problems. If you doubt that, please write a comment below to explain decisively what this sentence means: Regardless of the problematic nature of your problems, our solution will enable you to implement cutting-edge solutions that provide a problem-solving solution to any problem, regardless how problematic.

If points 1 and 2 have your head spinning, take heart. It might mean you’re going to be okay. And you just might be okay because you’ve at least begun to sense this lexicographic conundrum — the clear case of vagueness precipitated by solutions and solution — can only be eliminated by choosing more precise terms and employing them in less tortured syntax. In other words, to paraphrase the March Hare, say what you mean and mean what you say.

If you’re selling salt water or milk of magnesia, you’re definitely selling a solution.

If you’re selling products or services, you have to use your imagination to engage the imaginations of your prospects.

Image by Republica, courtesy of pixabay.com.