These terms run rampant in annual reports and uninspired résumés. Use them sparingly. There’s almost always a better, clearer, more precise alternative.
Facilitate. In my mind, this word conjures up an image of a conveyor belt. More specifically, the little rollers spinning beneath the belt. Each one puts forth some infinitesimal effort to shift things along, and one roller’s work is indistinguishable from its colleague’s. This is not a very flattering image, especially when applied to your own efforts. [Alternatives: help, aid, promote]
Implement. The Merriam-Webster definition of this verb is: “Carry out, accomplish; to give practical effect to and ensure of actual fulfillment by concrete measures.” In short, to do. Aside from being vague, implement usually makes for flabby sentences. “We implemented our plan to raise revenues” isn’t nearly as powerful as, say, “We raised revenues.” [Alternatives: launch, carry out, put into use]
Innovative. This is an incredibly noble word, but overuse has rubbed away much of its sparkle. It has become one of the lazy writer’s favorite adjectives (along with cutting-edge and groundbreaking). Ask yourself before you use it: Is what you’re describing really innovative? If so, describe how it’s different and special. [Alternative: unique—but only if it’s true]
Utilize. Try saying use instead and see if it still makes sense. It usually does. Yet many of us might write, “We utilized the latest technology” (rather than, “We used the latest technology”) in a misguided attempt to sound smarter or more official. Maybe it’s the slightly different connotation that draws us—utilize implies that we added some value to the technology to make it work for us, rather than just using what was already available. Unless that’s actually the case, though, don’t mislead your readers with such vague wording. [Alternatives: use, apply, take advantage of]
Now, just for fun, let’s put all these buzzwords together: “We facilitated the implementation of an innovative new program that utilizes all the latest technology.” Ta-daaa! Whatever meaning was once there is now buried in a hot mess of jargon.