The term “Development” means ________ to me.

De·vel·op·ment (n)

“The act, process, or result of developing” ~ Merriam-Webster 

A specified state of growth or advancement” ~ Oxford English

A couple of weeks ago, our team was having a discussion on some of the back-end mechanics of Set|Ready.

Yours truly, admittedly a mildly obsessive-compulsive type, asked if we could rename one of the folders in our shared cloud storage, which at the time had been given the title of ‘Development.’

“To me, this word has a much different meaning from what I think was intended for the contents of that folder” I said to the group. (In my field, the word Development typically is associated with the physical improvement or reconstruction of property).

Walter added “yeah, and in the startup community, Development means ‘coding.’”

“Development in non-profit circles usually refers to creating and maintaining ongoing relationships between the organization and donors that support its mission” Robert chimed in.

For me, this was an “ah-ha” moment. Most of us have known each other for years, since childhood. And, the four of us have been collaborating for months on making this vision for Set|Ready a reality. Though despite our mutual familiarity, this one word – Development – played an important role in defining just how different our backgrounds were from each other.

This story exemplifies the fact that terminology, acronyms, and corporate jargon varies widely between industries. This is a hurdle to overcome when you are entering an industry for the first time, or can be at times frustrating when making a career change.

And, it is no secret that the overuse of jargon in day-to-day conversation in the workplace can be annoying – just take a look at some of the feedback when Deadspin recently asked its readers which industry has the worst jargon.

Early in my career, a mentor I worked under shared with me two valuable lessons:

  1. First state what an acronym means before using it in written or verbal communication, no matter how familiar with it you think your audience may be
  2. When speaking to an audience that may include people from outside of your industry, it is best to avoid jargon all together, and minimize the use of acronyms

Have you ever sat in a meeting, job interview, or similar setting and been confronted with some confusing business jargon? Have a good story to share? We’d like to hear it!  Give us your best jargon-jumbles!

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Chief Planning Officer/Co-founder