SWAG

The business world has far too many acronyms. As a former English teacher, I generally try to use acronyms as little as possible. If you’re speaking to a group and using abbreviations, you’re automatically making an assumption that everyone in the room is familiar with them. SME is a good example. A couple years ago at Thunderbird, I learned that SME stood for Small/Medium Enterprise and is used to speak generally about smaller, younger, private businesses. However, at my new organization SME now stands for Subject Matter Expert, and its seems SMB (Small/Medium Business) has replaced my previous understanding of SME. There are endless examples. The last two companies I’ve worked for have literally had to build an online glossary to keep track of them all and so that everyone can bookmark them in case of future uncertainties.

With that said, one acronym that I’ve recently discovered and now love is SWAG. Scientific Wild-Ass Guess. Used in the context of discussing a topic for which you may have a moderate amount of time to consider but is certainly not top priority, you’d say something like, “based on the financial models from the past three years, I’d feel safe with a SWAG that domestic growth this year will be between 3% and 5%”.

It may seem silly now, but keep this in mind at work tomorrow, and you’ll be surprised how frequently SWAG is able to accurately describe a majority of your deliverables. Because for most of us, there is always a tight deadline, always too many other tasks that need attention, and never enough information to be 100% certain. Therefore, we’re forced to make the best decision we can with whatever data, research, and support is available. Or put simply, SWAGs.


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