"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. 2
Continuing to decipher the corporate lexicon.
October 1, 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 #2 of your guide for seeing through the smokescreen and understanding what your boss is really trying to say.

110 percent
Example:  "I need you to give 110 percent effort on this project!"
Intended to mean:  Do your very best.
What it really means:  "I'm not satisfied with your usual effort, but I'll make it sound like I am by implying you should go above your normal 100 percent."

Ball in your court
Example:  "Since you're deciding what color the widget will be, the ball is in your court."
Intended to mean:  It's your turn to take care of business.
What it really means:  "I'm shifting blame to you, let's see if you can find a way to shift it back to me."

Ballpark, not in the
Example:  "Jones, your proposal is not even in the ballpark!"
Intended to mean:  Very different from what others had in mind.
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!"

Big picture
Example:  "C'mon gang, let's try to see the big picture here!"
Intended to mean:  Focus your efforts on the important, overall goal.
What it really means:  "I want to avert your attention away from the pesky details and pretend like I'm wiser than you and have the ability to see the overall scope, unlike you."

Ducks in a row
Example:  "We should meet later and line all our ducks in a row."
Intended to mean:  Getting affairs organized.
What it really means:  "I'm desperate to sound important and organized so I'll use a kewl catchphrase."

Envelope, push the
Example:  "Our new widget is really pushing the envelope!"
Intended to mean:  Doing something that hasn't been done before.
What it really means:  "There's nothing new or interesting about this widget, but using this phrase makes it sound like there is.  It's a way for me to get around talking about specifics."

Flexibility
Example:  "These requirements might change, please stay flexible."
Intended to mean:  Be prepared to handle the unexpected.
What it really means:  "I refuse to make decisions and stick to them.  Please indulge my flip-flopping."

Game plan
Example:  "We need to put together a game plan."
Intended to mean:  Think ahead and have a plan ready.
What it really means:  "I read in a book somewhere that it's a good idea to plan ahead.  Using a phrase like 'game plan' will make me appear as if I am planning ahead."

Going forward
Example:  "Let's do that going forward."
Intended to mean:  Let's do that from now on.
What it really means:  "The word 'forward' sounds progressive and positive, so I'll use it to indicate that which could have been said in plain english."

Market segment
Example:  "Our widget is too large, that market segment won't like it!"
Intended to mean:  I dunno, something about males, age 18-24.
What it really means:  "I prefer to quantify people as statistics rather than think critically about them."

Mission critical
Example:  "This project is mission critical!"
Intended to mean:  It is the core of the business, it is the most important thing.
What it really means:  "I want you to feel like what you're working on is important.  But I know damn well it isn't."

Multitask
Example:  "I'm really busy, I've been multitasking all day!"
Intended to mean:  Simultaneously working on more than one thing.
What it really means:  "I have A.D.D."

Ramp up
Example:  "The company needs you to ramp up on this new technology."
Intended to mean:  Learn all you can in a short period of time.
What it really means:  "I'm going to publicly ask for your input on this topic, and I'll want you to answer them with just enough knowledge to be dangerous, so that if it all goes to hell I can blame you later."

Risk averse
Example:  "Your idea is interesting, but I'm very risk averse."
Intended to mean:  Weighing the risks against the rewards.  Not willing to take unnecessary risks.
What it really means:  "I'm chicken shit."  This phrase is usually used a few days after you are asked to "think outside the box."

Runway, rocks on the
Example:  "You're putting rocks on the runway!"
Intended to mean:  Standing in the way of progress.  Sabotaging other people's efforts.
What it really means:  "You are a motherfucking pain in my ass, but I'm afraid to actually say that to you.  Instead I'll use this HR-safe, cute little phrase."

Same page
Example:  "We need to get on the same page."
Intended to mean:  We need to come to a mutual agreement.
What it really means:  "You need to agree to whatever I say."

Scissors, running with
Example:  "Looks like we'll be running with scissors on this one."
Intended to mean:  This will be a bit unorganized, possibly risky.
What it really means:  "I refuse to stand up to any clients.  I'm forcing my staff to hack and kludge things together with no budget and minimal allotted time."

Stay tuned
Example:  "The new widget is almost complete.  Stay tuned!"
Intended to mean:  There will be more updates later.
What it really means:  "I'm too patronizing to think that you would pay attention on your own, so I'll take it upon myself to remind you that there will be more updates later."

Synergy
Example:  "This is our new corporate synergy!"
Intended to mean:  I have no idea, but it sounds very exciting!
What it really means:  "I have no idea, but doesn't it sound exciting!?"

Wall, throw against the
Example:  "Let's throw it against the wall and see what sticks."
Intended to mean:  Good ideas, all of them.  Let's find out which is the best.
What it really means:  "All these ideas suck ass, so let's try to go with the least sucky."

Whatever it takes
Example:  "We need to ship these widgets.  Do whatever it takes!"
Intended to mean:  This is very important.
What it really means:  "Do whatever it takes ... as long as it does not inconvenience me.  And as long as you don't ask me for any tools to help you do the job."

 

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