"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important."
- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
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Feature Corporate buzzword dictionary, vol. 1
Deciphering the corporate lexicon.
August 10, 2004
Corporate buzzwords are the terms and phrases tossed about by executives and managers to make themselves appear more important, or to cover up incompetence.  Lame.  This brand of office-speak makes me insane.  So annoying.  This dictionary is Volume #1 of your guide for seeing through the smokescreen and understanding what your boss is really trying to say.

Analysis paralysis
Example:  "I don't want this project to become a victim of analysis paralysis!"
Intended to mean:  Spending too much time on analysis slows progress to a crawl.
What it really means:  "I'm too incompetent to actually think about what I want up front.  I'd rather continually change requirements and make things up as I go."

Bleeding edge
Example:  "We need the newest software so we can be on the bleeding edge of technology!"
Intended to mean:  Desire for the company to be industry technology leaders.
What it really means:  "I don't care if the new stuff works, I want it anyway, because then I can look cool in front of my peers who read the trade magazines."

Bottom line
Example:  "We're not going to sell widgets in Canada, and that's the bottom line!"
Intended to mean:  The decision has been made and is final.
What it really means:  "I'm the fucking boss, so stop questioning me!  Your logical arguments hold no sway against my whims!"

Box, outside the
Example:  "That solution won't work.  We need to think outside the box, people!"
Intended to mean:  Be clever and innovative to solve this problem.
What it really means:  "I can't think of a good solution either, but you guys are the morons, not me."

Core competency
Example:  "Our company's core competency is creating widgets."
Intended to mean:  This is what the company does best, we are experts.
What it really means:  "We really don't do anything very well, but this is the thing we suck the least at, and if we use big words like "competency" maybe we can fool you."

"Exciting times"
Example:  "With the release of Widget version 6.0, this is a very exciting time!"
Intended to mean:  The company has a promising future.
What it really means:  Has there ever in the history of corporate memos or speeches been "boring times"?  Judging by CEO statements, every company at every time is "exciting".  This is by far the most overused buzzword for a company describing itself.

Face time
Example:  "I'd like to see more face time from you."
Intended to mean:  Try to make yourself more available.
What it really means:  "I don't care how productive you are, as long as you arrive before (and are seen by) upper management, and leave after upper management has left, to give them the impression my team is working hard."

Fire drill
Example:  "The widget design is all wrong!  Hurry up, it's a fire drill to fix it!"
Intended to mean:  This is an emergency.
What it really means:  "I screwed up due to poor planning and bad foresight, so now I need all my subordinates to run around and act like this is the most important event in the history of the company!"

Fish, bigger to fry
Example:  "I understand your point, Jones, but we have bigger fish to fry."
Intended to mean:  There are more important things to focus on.
What it really means:  "I think you're an idiot with a tiny little mind so I will belittle you in front of your peers by saying so using a barely veiled catchphrase."

Flagpole, run up the
Example:  "Good idea, let's run it up the flagpole."
Intended to mean:  Sounds like a good idea, but let's get someone else's opinion.
What it really means:  "I'm not authorized to make that decision."
What it also really means:  "I'm too afraid to make that decision on my own, and I need someone to blame in case it fails."

Iceberg, tip of the
Example:  "The widget doesn't fit into the cog.  And that's only the tip of the iceberg!"
Intended to mean:  There are many more problems besides that one.
What it really means:  "There are no other problems, but I want to make myself seem more important than I am, so I'll make it sound like there are problems without actually mentioning what they are."

Long pole
Example:  "Looks like you are the long pole on this project."
Intended to mean:  You are in charge of performing the final task.
What it really means:  "Everyone is waiting on you, pal.  Get your ass moving!"

Loop, out of the
Example:  "Sorry, I guess I was out of the loop."
Intended to mean:  Unaware of that topic or decision.
What it really means:  "I don't care about this, and I wasn't paying attention anyway."
What it also really means:  "You jackasses horde all the information, so how am I supposed to ever know anything that goes on around here?!"

Move forward
Example:  "We're not getting cooperation from our partner company, let's move forward without them."
Intended to mean:  It's important to keep on track and let nothing get in the way of objectives.
What it really means:  "I'd rather not take time to figure this out and make correct decisions.  Instead, let's charge through it like an elephant, knocking over everything in our path, consequences be damned!"

Example:  "I'm interested in talking about that topic, but let's take it offline."
Intended to mean:  Spoken during a meeting or conference call indicating that the topic is not appropriate for discussion at that time.
What it really means:  "I'm scared that I will make myself look like a fool if I talk about that in front of other people because I know nothing about it.  At the same time, I want to make it sound like I have complete control over the situation."

Onion, peel the
Example:  "This is complicated, we need to peel the onion."
Intended to mean:  Strip away the layers of complexity in order to assess this better.
What it really means:  "I think I'm kewl because I use metaphors in my speech when regular words would suffice."

Opportunity, window of
Example:  "Let's jump on this before the window of opportunity closes."
Intended to mean:  There is a limited amount of time that these particular conditions will exist.
What it really means:  "I'm afraid I might miss out on something if I don't jump at this (and every other) opportunity, no matter how little sense it makes."

Policy, open door
Example:  "As the CEO of Widgets Inc., I maintain an open door policy."
Intended to mean:  The CEO is interested in his employees' opinions and issues.  He's always available to listen and to help.
What it really means:  "I want to give the appearance I am interested in your opinions and issues.  Actually, I'm too busy embezzling funds, and too self-important to care about your petty problems."

Step up
Example:  "We need you to step up on this assignment!"
Intended to mean:  Do your very best.
What it really means:  "Normally you are a waste of space, try not to ruin things this time, fruitcake."

Strategic gap
Example:  "We are 500 widgets short, we have a strategic gap."
Intended to mean:  It's the difference between the projected results and the objectives.
What it really means:  "I'm trying to sound more intelligent than I am.  Actually, I don't know the real definition of the term."

Example:  "We get to keep the money and stay out of jail.  It's a win-win situation!"
Intended to mean:  Everyone will be happy with this decision, it satisfies all needs.
What it really means:  "I'm extremely proud of myself for making such an obvious decision and want you to know how smart I think I am."


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