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Examples of cliched business speak in the US?
January 9, 2013 10:01 PM   Subscribe

What annoying words and phrases are popping up too often in the US workplace? Whenever I try to think of an example, it is at least 5 years old and people aren't really using it anymore. For example, "hit the ground running" or "the competition ate our lunch". (But those are too old.)

Side thought: I wonder also if recessions go hand-in-hand with a reduction in dumb business cliches. Less time to spout trendy, upbeat BS when you are too busy trying to survive? Maybe that's why I'm having a hard time finding it.

However, I hope you can point out some newer bizspeak patterns that I haven't picked up on. Also welcome: good websites and magazines to use as sources for finding more. This is for a writing project.
posted by ErikH2000 to Society & Culture (225 answers total) 114 users marked this as a favorite
 
Caught a new one the other day: "onboarding."
posted by steinsaltz at 10:02 PM on January 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


This might be old, but "new paradigm" is one that annoys me.
posted by davebush at 10:05 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Synergy" is a classic.
posted by FJT at 10:10 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Deltas" instead of Cons, or minuses when comparing pro/con plus/minuses
posted by hellojed at 10:11 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Contributing my own...

"send it to the cloud"

I like how the cloud sounds mysterious, magical, unknowable. Send all problems to the cloud.
posted by ErikH2000 at 10:11 PM on January 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Onboarding is a classic. I refuse to believe it's new jargon, as I use it all the time! In all seriousness, "going forward" is my favourite want-to-bash-the-crap-out-of-the-sayer saying. It's a euphemism for "You've completely fucked up, don't do it again."
posted by Yowser at 10:12 PM on January 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


Cloud is a good one too. Especially since it's a recycling of "network computing" which is a recycling of "thin client" which is a recycling of "client-server" which is a recycling of "mainframe"
posted by Yowser at 10:13 PM on January 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


Synergy and new paradigm were both old 10 years ago. Right up there with low hanging fruit.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:15 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


You could play around with the Bullshit Bingo card generator, perhaps.
posted by Rumple at 10:16 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


At this moment in time, with all due respect, let me take this window of opportunity to share
with you a few cliches that some people may find particularly irritating. Basically, I would
have to begin by kick-starting the economy, on a level playing-field, of course, and then,
going forward, I would want to give 110% to the creation of a global footprint before cherry-picking the co-workers to empower the underprivileged, motivated the on-train team and craft an exciting public space, not forgetting that, if the infrastructure is not to find itself between a rock and a hard place, at the end of the day, we shall have to get networking and engage in some blue-sky thinking to push the envelop way beyond even our usual out-of-the-box metrics.


Continue on the Economist.
posted by Carius at 10:17 PM on January 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


Wheelhouse
posted by nacho fries at 10:18 PM on January 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Kickoff" when starting a new project.
"Town hall meeting" for a meeting with higher levels of management.
"Action Item" for shit we bring up in a meeting that has to be done
"Touch base" contact, informal meeting, cult ritual.
posted by hellojed at 10:18 PM on January 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


In the past year I have noticed a huge jump in the frequency of extensible, blowing out (your quota or number), and front end (when not actually talking about interface or software stuff).

And to your side note, I haven't noticed any less bullshit in this area since the crash.
posted by rmless at 10:22 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lean.

Ex: lean methodology; lean startup; etc.
posted by nacho fries at 10:24 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm hitting a painful realization after reading some of these.

The cliches aren't registering as cliches because I'm so immersed in them. Uggh. This is why I'm good at helping people write resumes!
posted by ErikH2000 at 10:24 PM on January 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Disruptive
posted by nacho fries at 10:24 PM on January 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


After I loop you in on this, we can circle around and inform so-and-so.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:25 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Optics. (How things appear.)

"Sure, we can issue a recall of all of the tainted product, but what are the optics of such an action?"
posted by The Deej at 10:25 PM on January 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Data point
posted by nacho fries at 10:30 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The new normal". Ugh. Love the show... Hate the term.
posted by pearlybob at 10:33 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh. And "FaceTime".
posted by pearlybob at 10:33 PM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Rockstar" and "ninja" as descriptors in job postings. (Every day I give thanks that these jobs are not generally in my field.)
posted by threeants at 10:38 PM on January 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


... recreate the wheel.
... the 10,000 foot view.
I don't have any bandwidth (aka I'm too busy).
Leverage (as a verb) _______.
... boil the ocean.
Kick the tires.
posted by 6spd at 10:39 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Outreach/reach out. Instead of saying "Why don't you talk to Bob?", you say, "Why don't you reach out to Bob?"

"Go viral" is the big one I've heard a LOT of, as in "This banner ad needs to go viral." Note that this may not actually BE content that could go viral. I once caused considerable consternation in a meeting by asking "What does that actually mean?" I may have been trolling.

"Take ownership" as in "Jane will take ownership of the meeting minutes" rather than "Jane will write the meeting minutes."

In addition to "rockstar" and "ninja", "guru" and "samurai" and "wizard".
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:40 PM on January 9, 2013 [27 favorites]


I hear these daily:

"Workstream" - for a project or set of tasks, often to denote parallel parts of a larger initiative. "We need to meet to discuss the deliverables for the competitive workstream."

"Double click" - to examine in greater detail - "Let's have a meeting to double click on that."
posted by troyer at 10:41 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unpack. To discuss something in more detail. "Bob suggested that our branding is outdated. Let's unpack that for a bit; what specific things need to be changed?"
posted by The Deej at 10:44 PM on January 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Learnings.
posted by the jam at 10:51 PM on January 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


So we're all across these new cliches now.
posted by goshling at 10:57 PM on January 9, 2013


If "at the end of the day" isn't already one of the most reviled phrases in the English language, it should be.

Really tired of "the cloud", "the social web", and "agile", but that may be industry-specific.

Sick of "gifting". Whatever happened to "giving"?

And this one seems obvious (may even be a Bill Lumberg-ism) but "that would be great" is like nails on chalkboard to me. "And if you could get it done by the end of the day, that would be great." Screeeeeeeeeeech!
posted by Afroblanco at 10:57 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Blue-sky thinking" and "robust."
posted by danceswithlight at 11:00 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is "bio-break" new(ish)? I only ever hear it from people who work in big corporate environments.
posted by vytae at 11:04 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


An HOA (handful of abbreviations) for you:

KYC: Know Your Client
CRM: Client Relationship Management
BOP: Bottom of the Pyramid

Also:

360: Adjective, as a synonym for all-encompassing (360 review, 360 appraisal).
Disruptive Innovation / Disruptive Strategy
Blue Ocean
posted by C^3 at 11:04 PM on January 9, 2013


Has "ship it" made it outside of developer circles yet?
posted by third word on a random page at 11:07 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reach Out (why not just "talk to customer"?)
Guru, Hacker, Ninja, Rockstar.
Leverage the synergies!
Anything cloud
posted by third word on a random page at 11:11 PM on January 9, 2013


I absolutely hate it when people use "architect" as a verb in lieu of "design".
posted by XMLicious at 11:13 PM on January 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


"going forward", as in "we will be instituting some amazing changes going forward." It seems to be creeping in everywhere and it's completely superfluous in every instance.

I mean, of course you're going forward. That's how time works. You're not traveling into the fucking past to do it.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 11:16 PM on January 9, 2013 [70 favorites]


Swim lanes seem to have become popular again this year.

Similarly, I love it when my models are called into question by someone that considers a 'model' to be three extrapolated points in excel.

Lean is huge right now.

I was pretty certain this was going to be the year of Strategy, given that management was all carrying around copies of Good Strategy / Bad Strategy earlier this year.

I figure some of the concepts of Anti-fragile are going to be big for the fist half of this year - heck, I know I'm tired of people asking if something they see is the next black swan. (I can't wait until someone says "Think of {X} like a cat and not like a washing machine).

Be your own advocate was a great slogan from our HR department after they cut health plan benefits.

Cognitive Dissonance and Change Blindness have both entered into management speak, meaning that I think I know the book list management is working through...
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:21 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Extreme overuse of the word "hack" in silicon valley.
posted by spatula at 11:24 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


You don't have action items; instead you "action" an item. "Stephanie's out of the box idea to make our pies go viral is great! Let's action that."

Bio-break is a thing and it is the worst thing. I would have felt less embarrassed for the conference leader I heard announce one if he'd just said " Alright folks, let's take 10 minutes so I can go have a big dump."
posted by marylynn at 11:30 PM on January 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Game-changer
Non-starter (as in, something that disqualifies from consideration)
5S (in lieu of "clean up")
posted by CutaneousRabbit at 11:36 PM on January 9, 2013


If I hear one more person "put a pin in" something I'll scream. That and "help me understand..." Help me understand why you did that thing that I would be yelling at you for if we were a company that yelled instead of giving "feedback"... There is also still a lot of "low hanging fruit" in my workplace.
posted by cecic at 11:36 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bandwidth, as in lack of bandwith to get something done
Doing a "Lessons Learned"
posted by helmutdog at 11:47 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dunno if it's common enough to be a cliche, but I was in a meeting recently where someone, in describing the optimum design for a webpage, told us that "you have to virtually promote the customer to trusted adviser status."
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:48 PM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Workflows" are the steps you go through -- usually a mix of organization techniques, brainstorming techniques, and software applications -- to "action" an item. If you Google "workflows" along with the name of any program, like Excel, you'll find a ton of "hacks" to make your workflow more efficient.
posted by Nattie at 11:52 PM on January 9, 2013


Pivoting.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:57 PM on January 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ooh, I forgot one! "BIG DATA". More like big BS, but what do I know.
posted by Yowser at 12:04 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Impact/"impactful" (I think I've even seen "impactfulness") is still big, sadly. And yes, "going forward" is both omnipresent and poisonously dumb.

"Authoring" and "content," as a vague catchall verb-noun pair, have taken over in the web/media business world — presumably because they make writing and making films and taking pictures seem more like manufacturing interchangeable widgets, rather than putting the focus on the creative or intellectual or individual side of the process.
posted by RogerB at 12:15 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Socialize (a plan)
Circle back
Ask (as in, here's my ask)
posted by crazycanuck at 12:16 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Curate for managing pretty much anything other than people. Oh. My. God. And calendarize. When my last boss broke that one out, she gave me a very frowny face when I asked, "You mean schedule?" Ask also drives me crazy, "what is your ask on this?" Stretch goal -- that one might not be new, but it never fails to say to me 'try harder, but we don't really expect you to succeed...'
posted by susanbeeswax at 12:30 AM on January 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd like to go through the gateway, come under the big tent, have a seat at the table and be a stakeholder, but only after I get out of my silo, and start pulling in harness with the team, working from the same playbook if not singing from the same hymnal, after we get onto the same page. Let me know if there are any red flags. If so, I'll put the issue in the parking lot. If not, it sounds like a win-win. We'll have that action item be one of our next steps, follow up, circle back, and close the loop.
posted by slidell at 12:52 AM on January 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Tracking - as in, "how's the performance of xyz employee tracking?" "How's the current business plan tracking?"
posted by chmmr at 12:52 AM on January 10, 2013


For some reason, "on the same page" makes my ears bleed. I know it's old, but gah!
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:25 AM on January 10, 2013


Using "social" as a noun, as if it were a quantitive thing that would instantly grant success.

For example:

Leverage Social for your next product release!
Learn what Social can do for you!
With the power of Social...

Often used by companies who think social is another word for advertising.
posted by meowzilla at 1:40 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Corporate Gibberish Generator: Metafilter flavored.
posted by lampshade at 2:03 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Kickoff" when starting a new project.

One PM tried to get me into a pre-kickoff meeting. I told them that there was no such thing. He insisted we needed a startup meeting before the startup meeting.

His words. I stared at him for about 15 seconds and he walked away.
posted by eriko at 2:13 AM on January 10, 2013




Last one....a bit old but still useful.

Automatic Random Name Generators
posted by lampshade at 2:19 AM on January 10, 2013


Indeed, pre-BLAH has become quite disgustingly common. I think the worst formation I've encountered was 'preincentivizing", though "precalcuation" had me quipping "I'll go scrape up some operators and operands, then...."

BOD, EOD, EOW all started showing up. We killed that by declaring *all* dates mean "end of day" which also meant 1700 CT. If you had to have it Thursday morning, you needed it by Wednesday, since that meant "Wednesday 1700CT". In practical effect, this truly means "Before the guy gets in the next morning."

I don't have any bandwidth

God, I know, but we've completely lost the "bandwidth" war. Bandwidth also now means transfer speed. I have, however, been known to state "don't ask that guy, he's practically DC" but I work with a number of guys who do RF geekery on the side.
posted by eriko at 2:19 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did other offices blessedly manage to escape The Matrix? As in, "Why don't you matrix with Anne, Bob and Steve on that, and get back to me by C.O.B". (That's 'close of business' in asshole-speak, for the unfamiliar).

The 'matrix' is far less amusing minus all the latex and spiffy, flowing vinyl jackets, but is nevertheless usually met with the trademark blank 'Keanu' face, followed by a lot of pointless action and scads of terrible dialogue.
posted by involution at 2:20 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nthing "reach out", but part of me wants it to get widespread enough that it will evolve into "reach around" for contacting multiple people. "Could you just reach around to Bob, Jeff, and Mike on this one?..."
posted by pont at 2:33 AM on January 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


- And on the subject of terrible forms of movie bleed-over into the workplace: my favorite was encountering a job posting (for a secretarial position, no less) stating that the job required "Top Gun."

Fuck yeah.
posted by involution at 2:38 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whenever someone wants to make sure we are "on the same page" I know I am being business-spoken to. I feel like my manicurist is never going to say that phrase.

My bosses say, "let's powwow," which means to meet. I've been hearing a bunch of "strong work" instead of "good work."

Not sure if this is what you're looking for... lately I've heard a lot of "gamify." Everyone wants to gamify whatever it is that people normally do. There is much talk of gamification.
posted by kellybird at 2:39 AM on January 10, 2013


This might be government-office-specific, but adding "-er" to a word to make it the name of a document type.

Let's do a one-pager. No, not a briefer, more of a backgrounder.

Also I see it was mentioned above, but "action" as a verb makes me want to wretch.
posted by solotoro at 2:48 AM on January 10, 2013


The use of the passive voice to absolve responsibility.

No longer "We're sorry we did not complete this." Instead, "We're sorry completion did not occur."

No longer "We apologize for offending you." Instead, "We apologize that offense was caused."

You get the idea.
posted by Jimbob at 3:25 AM on January 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


What are the metrics on this?
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:45 AM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


In a meeting: "let's take this offline" = "let's discuss this issue after the meeting".
posted by RubyScarlet at 3:51 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hear "I'll ping you offline" more and more, although not in a US workplace.

And every time it makes me twitch in irritation.
posted by cmonkey at 3:54 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you could go ahead and come in Sunday to monetize that gamification, that would be great.
posted by flabdablet at 4:42 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


N'thing "disruptive" and "kick-start" and "optics" and "unpack" and "cloud" as great examples of the new school of authentic digital frontier gibberish.

Here's some more:

"as a Service" or "aaS" - suffix for pretty much any product, concept, idea, emotion or noun. Goes hand in hand with "subscription model." : "We are kick-starting Meatloaf as a Service, or MLaaS - meatloaf delivered to meet customer needs on a subscription model. We expect this to disrupt the meatloaf distribution field."

"Insourcing" - When companies realize they can't ship everything off to India or China because India and China are now too expensive, or they realize their IT consulting firm has been robbing them blind with sweetheart deals to contractors. "We kick-started an Insourcing project when we realized there was no-one in the building who knew where the spare keyboards were. It's ITaaS on a subscription model that will allow us to disrupt the IT field by hiring and training our own employees."
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:54 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Leverage. Everything gets leveraged. "We can leverage X to do Y." Also, "utilize" where "use" would do. "We can utilize X to do Y." Also, verbing words all over the place.
posted by synecdoche at 4:59 AM on January 10, 2013


"bring you up to speed" - ugh
"Collaboration/collaborate" has been a big buzzword lately
posted by xicana63 at 5:06 AM on January 10, 2013


These clichés impose a false cheer upon whoever wants to use them, which makes it strange that "It is what it is" appears so often.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:11 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


One that appears on Metafilter all to frequently: 'curate'.
posted by hoyland at 5:45 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Grow the business
Ping me
Bandwidth to mean "how much free time do you have"
Course correction/alternative solutions
Business-oriented
Ohhh god synecdoche is right about leverage.
Referring to employees as resources.

"We're looking to leverage a few more resources to implement alternative solutions. Can you ping Ben and see if he has any extra bandwidth?"
posted by specialagentwebb at 5:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


My personal favorite is "servicing." As in, servicing the customer. Which to my ears is an archaic term for what sex workers do. How about just "serving?"
posted by gorbichov at 5:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't have such a big issue with many of these clichés. Onboarding means recruitment + training/familiarisation. It's a useful shorthand. So are some of the others mentioned above.

Clichés can serve a purpose: they can save time*, protect egos by disguising a direct order or disagreement, gloss over uncertainties or things that you'd rather not discuss, motivate or shock.

I've taken meetings offline (read: I don't want to discuss this issue in front of everybody), told people I didn't have much bandwidth (read: I'm busy, knackered and don't want to either tell you straight to get stuffed or have a conversation about a gap in my diary), and stoked the egos of my team by asking them to take on guru roles in different skill areas.

What I object to is the combination of clichés and the mixing of metaphors, to the point where nobody understands what is actually being said. "we need to wake up and smell the coffee, circle the wagons, synergies and leverage our intellectual capital." OK. Great. What's the action exactly? Where cliché just obscures meaning as a means of masking the ignorance or indecision of the person using it, then it's a problem.

* On that note, there was story about Siemens' requirement that all board members speak fluent English because board meetings would be held in English. The reason was that because German words for technological terms were so much longer, board meetings in German would take x% longer.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:01 AM on January 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


"Hair on fire," meaning something that has to be taken care of immediately. "Does anyone have any hair on fire items?" is something the VP of my department says often.

We're stuck with "agile" all the time, too. It's about as meaningless as anything, even in the confines of the scrum methodology, which is also pretty horrifying.
posted by xingcat at 6:01 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I could work my will, every manager who goes about with "action item" on his lips, should be roasted in his own annual review, and buried with a red stapler through his heart.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:05 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not sure if this was mentioned upthread, but how about "touchbase"? As in, let's touchbase on this matter later in the day". I've never heard the term COB used until I read it upthread-- we usually just use EOD (end of day).
posted by lovelygirl at 6:07 AM on January 10, 2013


Granulate as in "lets granulate this data and preform a bottom up analysis" (ARGH)

Bespoke as in a one off deal.

deep dive analysis (usually means an audit request)

Action Item, Circle Back, taking things off line (granted this is relevant when we have webmeetings!), and Ping (or where I currently work- "jam") are all... irriatatingly common it seems.

EOD is a standard finance term, so that one doesn't stick out to me as much.
posted by larthegreat at 6:10 AM on January 10, 2013


A company I used to work for, everyone had the bizarre habit of referring to every meeting (which was not a department meeting) as a brownbag, regardless of when it was being held or really anything else.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:15 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


We are visioneering this thing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:20 AM on January 10, 2013


bullshittr, the Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator™ can help with this.
posted by sephira at 6:27 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


gorbichov, presumably the customer should feel serviced after having been served.

My boss's boss's boss uses "circle back" and "interface" a lot.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:31 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Occupational neologisms are pretty consistently with us. We have a thread like this (and popular media articles, etc.,) every couple of years. Much of it is tied to the release of new organizational-theory and management books, in which consultants and MBAs have to put their own spin on language and come up with new words and phrases to reference their ideas. Much of arises out of the folk context of people at work. About a year ago I got a new, British boss, so our American workplace has been deluged with workplace Britishisms - a "wash-up meeting" instead of a debrief, "done and dusted" for something being finished, "rationalize" for simplifying or streamlining something, etc.
posted by Miko at 6:39 AM on January 10, 2013


Is "bio-break" new(ish)?

At least 13 years old, maybe more. I know it from online gaming and IRC of that era: "brb bio" or just "bio break".
posted by curious nu at 6:40 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Excerpt from an actual email I received this month:
"This ... change will create opportunities to gain synergies through a number of key initiatives currently underway".
posted by jillithd at 6:41 AM on January 10, 2013


Oh my God, I was up in San Francisco the other week and my friend since high school was at work and asked if he could ping me later. I told him I've known him for twenty years and to fuck off, he's never used that word before.
posted by phaedon at 6:45 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got one this week about attending a "tag up". I think that's supposed to be a combination of "touching base", "update" and maybe "tag team".
posted by DU at 6:47 AM on January 10, 2013


My personal favorite is "servicing." As in, servicing the customer. Which to my ears is an archaic term for what sex workers do. How about just "serving?"

Totally agree when it's about a customer. But when it's about assets, I think it's OK - servicing hedge fund assets. You provide services to assets, but you can't serve assets.
However, if you talk about "servicing a customer's assets" then you're squarely in double-entendre territory.
posted by guy72277 at 6:48 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


From a recent corporate e-mail: “The key to our success has been through effective positioning of our proposition to the market with very clear packaged flavours, transparent pricing and differentiation through underpinning our cloud-based solution with subject matter experts.”
posted by misteraitch at 6:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Leverage" as a goddamn verb. You already added -age to the verb "lever" to turn it into a noun!
posted by emelenjr at 7:00 AM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I was in a business context, I was struck by how often said "I am desirous of..." but that might have been idiosyncratic.

"Deliverables" is a pretty useful & descriptive word but I almost pee my pants with laughter everytime I hear it.
posted by activitystory at 7:01 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Web access at the school where I work has recently been moved from an ISP-provided proxy server to zscaler, whose control panel offers me the option to drill down and see what my road warriors are up to.
posted by flabdablet at 7:04 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Soft launch"
posted by timsteil at 7:05 AM on January 10, 2013


"Emergent" (simply meaning "new") and "quantitate" seem to be getting coopted as managerial jargon in some of my science circles. "Fungible" for things that can be "massaged."

I had a boss who would leverage gamification by framing every action item as a "10-point toss-up for control of the board." Usually the task involved either "drilling down" or "getting our hands dirty," but sometimes both: "getting down and dirty with it."
posted by Westringia F. at 7:13 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


'Come-to-Jesus moment' as a metaphor for when upper management wants to scold inferiors always bothered me.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:25 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


My favorite example in the wild is Gartner's definition of Enterprise Architecture.
posted by togdon at 7:27 AM on January 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


I have the honor of helping to write proposals and RFP responses (itself a problematic word!) fairly often. I write in plain English and it just kills me when I write things like:

We use our in-house video production facility to keep costs down

and they turn into

Agency X leverages in-house production capabilities and personnel to generate maximized ROI against minimal resource allocation.

posted by Mister_A at 7:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and "Incent". "We want to incent people to compliment good posts by adding a favorite mechanism."
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:32 AM on January 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I can't believe that's the first mention of ROI. It's been around for a while but yikes it's a constant at our agency, where we recently figured out we can measure stuff.
posted by Mister_A at 7:32 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


We had some new people working on a campaign last spring and they brought up producing "wearables" for the campaign. Yes, they meant T-shirts.

I'm often in meetings where the participants are speaking English, but I have no fucking clue what anybody is really saying.
posted by rocketman at 7:38 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a very large client where everyone constantly says they need to "level-set" and they are going to "level-set" with each other. New one for me.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2013


I suspect "level-set" is auditioning for the role of "set expectations".
posted by Mister_A at 7:54 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Price point" makes me want to punch whoever says it in the mouth. I know I have issues but, still...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:03 AM on January 10, 2013


"Close the loop" is popular around here, as in "Could you close the loop on this?" Basically, get your shit done.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2013


I have a colleague who uses 'divide and conquer' where his intent is 'split the labor among qualified project leaders,' rather than 'fragment the enemy force and obliterate the remnants.'
posted by Mister_A at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I thought the feature was a great value-add but the client pushed back."

"How granular do you need the report to be?" --always makes me think of sand and sensitive body parts
posted by ceiba at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The word "passion" has become a business cliche in Silicon Valley. People can't just enjoy running tests on software, they have to be "passionate."
posted by steinsaltz at 8:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Monetize is another one, when companies realize they have to somehow pay back their investment capital.

Tiered is common now, too - they realize they can offer things in different amounts.

"Once we pivot and monetize our MLaaS through our tiered subscription model, we'll still have a free meatloaf option for legacy users to preserve good optics, though we're looking at an eventual wind-down."
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this one listed yet, it's a bit old though "low-hanging fruit".
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 8:36 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Grossest one ever: open kimono. Yecch.
posted by Lieber Frau at 8:38 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm immersed in it quite a bit but my absolute, brain-boiling "favorite" is:

"solution" as a verb instead of "solve" as in:

Let's solution this.

*shudder*

Bonus: while not really a cliche, I had a non-technical colleague who insisted on using the word "logarithm" when he meant "algorithm", this in client meetings with technical people involved. No matter how many times I corrected him in the background he would continue to do it. This is kind of a nutshell representation of why I am no longer with that company.
posted by rocketpup at 8:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


About ten years ago, was in a meeting where a managerial type brought up a decision that had been made about something and a PhD techie type asked "When was that?" Managerial type replied "Oh you remember that, it was in the December timeframe." PhD techie said, "Please. Can you just say December?"
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


whiteboard (I think it means brainstorm or organize or something...):
"why don't you guys get into the conference room and whiteboard this idea" (note: conference room does not contain an actual whiteboard)

delta (finance guys love using the word "delta" in place of an estimated likelihood of something happening because of the use of the term in options trading):
"I'm putting a 60 delta on this deal getting done?" (aka 60%)

better mousetrap (superior solution):
"if we show them a better mousetrap, their salespeople are going to be all over it"

home run (promising idea):
"this new strategy is going to be a total home run for us!"
posted by musicismath at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2013


Oh, and "Incent". "We want to incent people to compliment good posts by adding a favorite mechanism."

Apparently "incentivize" was too disco.
posted by rocketpup at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know this is an old one but "repurpose" always made me cringe. To the same extent "regift", is another of the myriad of re-xxxxx words that always seemed weird to me.

I know, pretty dated, but I still wince when I hear them.
posted by lampshade at 8:59 AM on January 10, 2013


[insert noun]-ify, -ification;
[insert verb]-tivize, -ly

e.g. shitify, shitification
e.g. vomitivize, vomitly

(examples may be unduly influenced by author's opinion of the suffix algorithm)
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:01 AM on January 10, 2013


"I can't speak to ___" (translates to '___ is neither my fault nor responsibility')
"I'm not sure there's value in ___" (translates to '___ is a dumb idea')
"There's some risk of regression in ___" (translates to 'I probably screwed up ___')
"___ has kicked off some lively discussion on this side" ('one of us hates your idea')
"Will wrap up by EOD" ('yes I know it was due yesterday, leave me alone')

The worst part: All but one of those are from my own emails.

Also, "legacied" (for discontinued), "deliverables" (for stuff that has to get done), "spare cycles" (free time).
posted by ook at 9:02 AM on January 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Efficiencies and actionable are two of the biggest offenders by my management team. We should probably form a subcommittee to hash all of these out.
posted by Think_Long at 9:06 AM on January 10, 2013


Clarity. As in "Let's get some clarity on this issue."

I'm using this thread to write my next memo.
posted by LightMayo at 9:20 AM on January 10, 2013


In SF Startup-Land, the terms "team" and "team lead" are much more common than "department" and "boss/manager" even though I'm pretty sure that they mean the same thing.

I don't know if this is something people actually say or if it's just marketing/blogger/news-speak, but I'm really sick of "disrupt" and "disruptor."
posted by radioamy at 9:22 AM on January 10, 2013


I hear "triage" a lot--as in "Let's triage on this matter"--and it makes me want to scream, mostly because it has serious "emergency/crisis" connotation and the context in which it's used is never an emergency or crisis situation.
posted by lovableiago at 9:25 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Utilize, incentivize.

Liaise.

Bill Clinton was one of the first to use "grow the economy". I hate it.
posted by mareli at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Surprised no one has mentioned "the takeaway is..."
posted by steinsaltz at 9:42 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Core competency.

Sweet spot.

Price point was mentioned above. It *actually* means something, but it's almost always mis-used to mean just "price," which is maddening.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:44 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's schedule a standup to go over this.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:48 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been hearing "runway" used for a while now, apparently as a euphemism for time, viz.: "There's not enough runway to get that done."
posted by reacheround at 9:49 AM on January 10, 2013


Oh! And "future planning," which to me is like. . .as opposed to past planning? Especially grating when hooked up with "going forward."
posted by reacheround at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Office as a verb. ("Oh? You're officing on 35 now? Didn't you used to be on 28?")

Status as a verb. ("Let's status by phone at 4:30.")

Barf.
posted by *s at 9:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somehow every cliché with either "touch" or "run" just gives me the shrivels -- "touch base with," "touch and go," "run this past ___," "run with it," "the crowd he runs with," and so on.

I used to work for a guy whose second-language-English was good but not perfect. He used to try to illustrate his points with metaphors which were more opaque than the original idea he was trying to shed light on: "The guy at the zoo doesn't want a fur coat," "We don't want to buy the same spinach every day," " Having a window is good, but having a door is better." We were all baffled, including a coworker who was from the same background as the boss. He insisted these were not aphorisms from the old country, but merely products of the boss' fevered mind.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:58 AM on January 10, 2013 [24 favorites]


Layoffs / firings used to be "reductions in force." Lately I've heard them referred to as "managing for value."
posted by reacheround at 9:58 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Optimization (usually of resources). I don't know what it means beyond that everyone should work more. Value-added, usually when nothing of any value is in the room let alone being added. Open-sourcing, which seems to get tossed around a lot but never about code.

And there's a special hell for the person I met recently who seemed to think tweetworthy was a word that should ever be spoken. As in 'is it tweetworthy'. No! There must be a higher bar for things you want to write 140 characters about!
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:02 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"The guy at the zoo doesn't want a fur coat," "We don't want to buy the same spinach every day," " Having a window is good, but having a door is better."

We've found the guy who reads Friedman!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Warm handshake" as a way of letting someone know you're foisting work onto them.
posted by anthom at 10:05 AM on January 10, 2013


"Huddle" used to mean a meeting e.g. Monday morning huddle.

Nthing "reach out" which struck me as overly familiar and intimate when I first heard it. Gross.

One my office uses is "player coach" for what I assume to mean manager (I'm still not sure).

And the one I hate most of all, I mean makes me-want-to-scream hate, is "bubble up". As in "Let's get these suggestions to bubble up to management." I was at a conference recently and once one person used the term, everyone did and it was actually distracting me from what people were saying, it was so annoying. What's wrong with elevate?

And if you like this stuff you will LOVE Martin Lukes, who invented the terms "creovation" and "integethics". He's like The Onion of every bad business trend you can think of. So funny.
posted by young sister beacon at 10:07 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose this term isn't totally baseless, but I see it come up overandoverandover again in job descriptions and it's driving me nuts: "cross-functional teams"
posted by radioamy at 10:11 AM on January 10, 2013


Oh and n'thing "ninja" and "rockstar" in job postings. Do companies really want to hire someone who is going to beat them up? Or be a cocky asshole? Because that's what comes to mind when I think of those terms.
posted by radioamy at 10:12 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


One that recently floored me was listening to a vendor's VM saying that she was "Out of pocket for the day," meaning that she was unavailable.
posted by lstanley at 10:16 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes. "Out of pocket." That one drives me nuts. "Out of pocket" had always, to me, referred to expenses, as in "I'll pay for this one out of pocket" (with the hope of perhaps getting reimbursed by some other institution later, or recouping your expenses with later revenues). Since when did "out of pocket" come to mean "off the grid"? And how does that even make sense? When I'm in the office and fully connected (Internet, cell, etc.), I don't say I'm "in pocket." Pocket is not a thing!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:19 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


In a meeting: "let's take this offline" = "let's discuss this issue after the meeting".

EVEN WHEN that discussion will happen on the same phone line you were having the meeting on, or via email/webchat ARG ARG ARG.

No one's mentioned yet how you need to surf the waves and not get too into the weeds?
posted by solotoro at 10:20 AM on January 10, 2013


"Leverage" as a goddamn verb. You already added -age to the verb "lever" to turn it into a noun!

I honestly don't think I realized that "lever" could be used as a verb. To my mind, leverage (n.) is the abstracted benefit of using a lever (n.), though I guess leverage (v.) could be replaced by "make use of."

Surprised no one has mentioned "the takeaway is..."

That doesn't both me, but it is interesting that Merriam-Webster cites the first use of "takeaway" as 1961 whereas what I think of as its nearest synonym ("upshot") sounds just as business-y yet dates back to 1594.

Me, I'm just getting tired of hearing "framework" to mean "a bunch of loosely connected projects that we hope signify that we're making choices rationally," but that may just be my office's weirdo thing.
posted by psoas at 10:30 AM on January 10, 2013


"Level-set" as roughly "setting expectations" gets heavy use among project manager types at my place.

There's a whole lot of "taking it offline," "takeaways," "lessons learned," and "solutioning" as well.

Tangential topic of ESL oddness: I've been familiar with "do the needful" from Indian ("offshore") staff and contractors since just after 2000 or so. "Intimate" (long A for last syllable) seems to be cropping up more and more often, being used as "provide" as in "Please do the needful and intimate the results."
posted by Drastic at 10:39 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, also there's a whole lot of "touchpoints." Touchpoints being big unwieldy conference calls so everyone can "touch base" with one another. They're apparently the best place to solution, level set, and review takeaways and lessons learned going forward, even though things sometimes get heated and elements of the touchpoints should be taken offline.
posted by Drastic at 10:45 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Since when did "out of pocket" come to mean "off the grid"?

Since when did "off the grid" mean anything other than "a residence not connected to a public power distribution system"?

I do a lot of due diligence work. "Open kimono" is vastly overused when discussing data rooms and NDAs.

Also, "stakeholder" as a verb: "We need to stakeholder the changes in the project with the community". Unless you're building fences or killing vampires, don't use this term.
posted by scruss at 10:48 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, 'gamification' is particularly annoying, mostly because the result of 'gamification' is rarely any actual fun. How can it be a game if it isn't any fun?!
posted by Afroblanco at 10:55 AM on January 10, 2013


I think we're well past peak gamification, thankfully.
posted by Mister_A at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2013


scruss: "Since when did "off the grid" mean anything other than "a residence not connected to a public power distribution system"?"

At least as far back as 1996. I have in my hands a copy of Jargon Watch, a tiny book collection of '90s buzzword-y lingo that appeared each month in Wired Magazine. The compilation was published in '97, but the phrase in question appeared in the magazine itself in Oct. of 1996. In the book, the definition is given as:
Euphemism for being off of the Net. "Sorry I didn't email you last week, I was off the grid in Mexico." Also refers to people who live out in the country and generate their own power."
In the original article, it was basically the same:
Euphemism for being off the Net. "Sorry I didn't email you last week; I was off the grid in Mexico." Also refers to someone who lives in a rural area without running water, electricity, or phone service.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:16 AM on January 10, 2013


When I worked at Large Software Company there was talk of "eating our own dog food." Don't know if that one is now passe. I hope so.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:21 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seed, water and grow.

eg. We might experience some bumps along the way, but we have to seed, water and grow that idea.
posted by jmmpangaea at 11:22 AM on January 10, 2013


Hiring/firing as "headcount issues"
Your manager said you had some "opportunities" in your last performance review.
Sorry this slide is such an "eye chart" - tell ya what, I'll send you guys the "deck" later.
When a certain action would "improve a metric" we could say it's "moving the needle"
"Solutioning" is indeed cringeworthy, but be lucky if you never hear "architecting" in the agenda for a "quick huddle".
posted by pianoblack at 11:24 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one's mentioned yet how you need to surf the waves and not get too into the weeds?

You have to be careful with jargon!

In a meeting, my boss was expressing concern that involving "Dave" from another department in our plans might be a mistake. He said Dave has a tendency to focus on minor issues and derail the progress of what our group was trying to accomplish. He expressed his frustration by saying "I am just NOT going to let Dave suck me off in the weeds!"

His eyes immediately got wide as we all stifled laughter.

Best meeting ever.
posted by The Deej at 11:26 AM on January 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seed, water and grow.

See also: "Harvest and plant"

(In that order, for some odd reason)
posted by pianoblack at 11:29 AM on January 10, 2013


"solution" as a verb instead of "solve" as in:

Let's solution this.


If faced with that, you have no choice other than to hit back with "solve" as a noun.

"How's the solutioning going with problem X?"
"All right. Let me show you some of the solves we've come up with."
posted by benito.strauss at 11:34 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Slammed. Swamped. Huddle. Overwhelmed. Have a lot on my plate. Maybe it's just my office or field, but those are some of the verbs and verb phrases that get overused in the context of my workplace.

"I'm so slammed right now."

"I'm really swamped, can I call you back?"

"Let's huddle about that later."

"Overwhelmed" is just an easy cop-out to avoid dealing with things.

And when people have way too much "on their plates," they have to "touch base" about a "game plan" for "moving forward." Ugh.
posted by limeonaire at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2013


Allow me to present the white board that hung in the Web/R&D department break room at the ill-fated Stan Lee Media in late 2000. It started off as buzzword bingo and turned into a sort of improv dot com cliché poetry slam.
posted by usonian at 11:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do business people still say "bleeding edge"?

Because ick.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:54 AM on January 10, 2013


I thought "verbiage" meaning any amount of text or as a synonym for "content" was a thing, but maybe it's just us? Somehow that makes it even worse.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:56 AM on January 10, 2013


These might be dated, because it's been awhile since I've worked in an office, but I still see them kicking around job advertisements and hear them in job interviews, but thinking "out of the box" makes me twitch, as does "team player" . Seriously, none of the admin jobs I've ever worked for need me to be a "team player" but they still advertise for their workers to be one.
posted by patheral at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2013


"Planful", e.g., "We need to be planful about leveraging our resources."
posted by mefireader at 12:11 PM on January 10, 2013


"Double click" - to examine in greater detail...

You're kidding me. You must be. Did someone really say that to you? Good Lord.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:24 PM on January 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wake & Bake?
posted by growabrain at 12:25 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mind-mapping
posted by nacho fries at 12:27 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading through these examples, I'm wondering if almost everyone who's responded works in software or web development, or if my field is unusual in that I've never heard most of these phrases spoken in any place I've worked. I recognize a lot of these terms only from reading tech industry job listings and reading articles about such jobs. Depending on the nature of the writing project this is for, that might be worth keeping in mind.

The world of TV news production enjoys the word "efforting," which means "I'm working on it" or, "Uh, yeah, that isn't ready yet."
posted by wondermouse at 12:28 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Could you just reach around to Bob..."

Oh, I hope I overhear that one in the wild someday. I have a dirty mind.
posted by nacho fries at 12:29 PM on January 10, 2013


Variation on "bio-break":

Bio-I/O


(I happen to like that one, though. It has a certain charm.)
posted by nacho fries at 12:31 PM on January 10, 2013


I picked up "reach out to Person X" from a cop friend, for whom it means not just "I'll talk to Person X" but something more like "I'll redeem a favor with Person X, or promise them a future favor, to get that information or thing we need". And I use it pretty often, since it usefully abbreviates "I will meet, call, e-mail, text, Facebook, tweet, or IM Person X".
posted by nicwolff at 12:46 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've heard "ideate" at my workplace. As in, "We need to improve our marketing materials. Scott, why don't you and Bob ideate on that and get back to me?"
posted by aheckler at 1:20 PM on January 10, 2013


Tabletize
posted by nacho fries at 1:24 PM on January 10, 2013


"provide some color"
posted by millipede at 1:25 PM on January 10, 2013


Mind-mapping

Might be having a resurgence, but I learned that one during teacher training in 1991-3.
posted by Miko at 1:27 PM on January 10, 2013


Yes, I think many of these older terms are being repurposed (urk) in emergent domains (double-urk).
posted by nacho fries at 1:36 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "reach out" expression is very popular among recruiters. "I wanted to reach out to you about this opportunity..."

(The temptation to respond with "Careful -- you might pull back a bloody stump" is best resisted.)
posted by nacho fries at 2:05 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


In terms of
In the context of
posted by swift at 2:25 PM on January 10, 2013


On the Go Forward = in the future
Post = after
posted by swift at 2:43 PM on January 10, 2013


I don't know if it's corporate-speak as such, but remember a year ago when everyone was getting "thrown under the bus"?

I wrote 'per se' instead of 'as such' at first, but that one at least has some classical flair.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 3:00 PM on January 10, 2013


"Table stakes" to describe any base requirement.

"Talent marketplace" to describe the job market.

"Data Analytics" to describe any statistic or chart.....even if took 30 seconds in Excel and was just made up (also "visualization" for any chart/figure)

"Big Data" - we don't know how much data we have or where it all is....nor do we have the skills to do anything with it or even know why we still keep it....but we're sure there is value in it somewhere..
posted by inflatablekiwi at 3:19 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Raymond Chen's blog The Old New Thing has a recurring feature, Microspeak, in which he describes/dissects Microsoft internal jargon. He's technical, but many of the terms he describes are businessy cliches.

Posts tagged Microspeak; and I noticed a few are untagged, so also here is a site search for Microspeak.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:06 PM on January 10, 2013


In a meeting with my then new co-workers, they kept throwing the term 'UBT' around. Finally I had to stop them and ask what they meant. I was told it meant 'unique buying tribe'. The look of disgust must have been so plain on my face that they just hung their heads in shame.

Also, while it's probably a useful term, I've come to hate 'best practices'.

Just reading this thread makes me want to burn any item of clothing that I own that could remotely be labeled as business casual and run screaming, naked, into the woods.
posted by picea at 4:35 PM on January 10, 2013


fantabulous timewaster: "I don't know if it's corporate-speak as such, but remember a year ago when everyone was getting "thrown under the bus"?"

I hear this so often at my workplace I'm starting to wonder if I work for Greyhound.

"Circle back" is driving me mad right now, because if someone missed a conversation or a meeting, it's just as easy to "update" them or "catch them up". Stupid loops.

"Reach out" in my neck of the woods is usually used to initiate contact with someone, after which point, they become a contact eligible for either "touch base" or "circle back" status before "moving forward" with the "next steps" on a project.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:41 PM on January 10, 2013


How has no one brought up the word "fresh"? As in, that idea is so fresh! One of the least fresh buzzwords of all time imo.
posted by Dr. Send at 5:30 PM on January 10, 2013


I am ashamed to admit that I have been so busy trying to beat back “outreach” as a verb in my workplace that I never stopped to think that “reach out” might be stupid, too.
posted by Ptrin at 6:03 PM on January 10, 2013


I recently started a new job at a big corporation.

"Socializing" a project apparently means keeping other departments informed and invested.

I've never heard the word "metric" so many times in single week.
posted by prior at 6:06 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh dear sweet mother of all monkeys, there is so very much I would 'like to help' past supervisors 'understand' but I really am a pacifist at heart.
posted by Space Kitty at 6:33 PM on January 10, 2013


People in my company have the annoying habit of using the preposition "across" to refer to any length of time longer than a day. "What did you do across the holidays?" was a popular question across the past week.

Lots of these, though, aren't really buzzwords, they have actual meaning, and the "plain English" that folks are suggesting works better doesn't really capture the full meaning of the actual term.
posted by downing street memo at 7:11 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I burst out laughing at one of my co-workers when he used the expression, "That's not on my skills matrix", meaning, "That's not in my job description", or "I don't know how to do that."
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:19 PM on January 10, 2013


At my work, they say "smee" instead of subject matter expert. It makes it sound a lot cuter than it actually is.
posted by reenum at 7:27 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Out of pocket"

I puzzled over this one for a while. I heard it used to mean more that a person is on the loose or out of control as opposed to just not available. It's a football analogy, right, for when the quarterback decides to get out from behind his defensive pocket and improvise?
posted by BinGregory at 7:30 PM on January 10, 2013


Let's "pull the trigger" on that project. Pls handle thx.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:41 PM on January 10, 2013


Turns out there's a somewhat inconclusive old askMe about out of pocket. (I miss the straightener)
posted by BinGregory at 7:53 PM on January 10, 2013


I worked in a place that was big on "onpassing" (or maybe "on-passing") to mean "passing along," commonly seen in e-mail forwards. It drove me fucking crazy.

Also "use case," as in, "situation in which we would use that product/technology/whatever." I say it sometimes but only when I'm feeling like a jerk.
posted by janet lynn at 7:56 PM on January 10, 2013


Isn't "going forward" some sort of attempt to compensate for English not formally expressing imperfective aspect?

This doesn't quite fit because it's a one-off (ha! there's another) rather than a trend but I was on a call with a salesman and in the course of fumbling around trying to express to a potential customer that our company was reliable and not going to let them down he said "Guys, this isn't a hang em' and bang em' operation." (But he realized he'd sounded like a nitwit after he said it.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:04 PM on January 10, 2013


Pain point
posted by nacho fries at 10:22 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Black box" meaning you or your department just do the given task with no input or support, no problems are ever visible to anyone outside you or your department, and the output is magically exactly what is needed/expected.
posted by twiggy32 at 10:54 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Branding look/feel makes me cringe.

Also in the co-op world our "Action Items" are now "Action Monkeys" unless they're put in the "Parking Lot." Ugh!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:57 PM on January 10, 2013


When I worked at Large Software Company there was talk of "eating our own dog food." Don't know if that one is now passe. I hope so.

Good news: Yes it is. Bad news: Because it's called "dogfooding" now.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 12:43 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


"uplift" is something you do to dolphins and monkeys, not software.

Also, I first heard "out of pocket" on The Wire, so every time someone says it at work I think they are being investigated.
posted by Gorgik at 4:23 AM on January 11, 2013


When our PR woman left our institute and was discussing her future, she said "so I get to be part of that conversation". But she was full of bullshit peusospeech, so I don't know if it's common or just her own way of making herself sound important.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:52 AM on January 11, 2013


gamechanger

sustainability / sustainable - Used any time that a company wants to score points with the environmentalist community (they don't necessarily succeed with this). I've also seen it used to mean self-sufficient (not reliant on external organizations to fund it or manage) or able to continue operating at its current budget.

Really surprised no one else has mentioned it.

Engagement
posted by fizzix at 5:32 AM on January 11, 2013


More on "utilize" - the word has the power of converting things into actors (Bruno Latour would be so happy). Cited from a web shop that offers digital decoder installations in model trains:

"This project utilizes an ESU LokSound Select Micro decoder for sound and motor and light installed in a trio of N Scale Kato F3A-B-A's"

I especially like that it is some unknown force that installs the decoder in the locomotive trio, while the project can just go ahead and utilize it. Classy.
posted by Namlit at 5:54 AM on January 11, 2013


Oh and it surprises me that "tacit knowledge" hasn't been mentioned.

Tacit knowledge is every time a guy is too lazy to explain what he just has done (with that bike, with the leaking tap, with the printer that didn't want to to stickers, with the tax form...)
posted by Namlit at 5:59 AM on January 11, 2013


I heard a new one this morning on Diane Rehm's show. They were talking about US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, and the differences between the White House and the Pentagon on how rapidly the draw-down would happen.

Glideslope/Glidepath
posted by Thorzdad at 8:12 AM on January 11, 2013


Sunset/sunsetting/sunsetting to describe a policy or issue or whatever that slowly faded out.
posted by moons in june at 8:44 AM on January 11, 2013


Hug, for morning meeting, is used by part of my firm and it is hideous. I think it might be an acronym, but I can't bring myself to ask.
posted by litereally at 9:21 AM on January 11, 2013


A lot of these are very familiar where I work. Generally I'm happy to use them when they "add clarity" but I really dislike things like "going forward" that just seem redundant.

A couple more I haven't seen in the thread yet:
"underperforming" particularly of people (sorry, resources)
"soup to nuts" meaning from beginning to end. I had to actually ask someone what this meant when I first heard it.

At a previous employer I did once see someone go beyond "touch base" and suggest that we needed to "touch the customer". That didn't seem to catch on though.
posted by crocomancer at 9:22 AM on January 11, 2013


Couple more:
"step change" for "significant change" (similar to "move the needle")
"pipeline" for "add to someone's todo list" - can we pipeline that bug for Sanjib?
posted by crocomancer at 9:32 AM on January 11, 2013


If you've ideated a new or better workflow, you'd better get buy-in from key stakeholders offline before the huddle or you will get your idea shot down due to push-back. If you're golden, you can rest assured that you'll get easy buy-in from management, though the subject matter experts may not see the value added.

Don't get thrown under the bus! If you're not good at delivering on key deliverables and don't minimize your exposure by covering your ass, those failures will be captured in your team lead's metrics to be thrown in your face at your 360 annual performance management meeting, if not sooner in a corrective interview. If you're not in the club, you have to be even more careful or you'll be right-sized out the door.

Don't fret: everyone job-hops going forward in this new economy. Just look for a new job with a company that needs a guru or a team player using your friend-space. Your mentor can help, too. Just be careful of new start-ups that have a high burn rate of VC money.

Now I need to stop cyberloafing and put in some head-down time to finish this code.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:33 AM on January 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think "pop" is fairly newish - or at least branching out from fashion into a lot of other places where it seriously doesn't belong (it was bad enough in fashion!!!).

Best practice is actually a legal term in my field, though; it differentiates between what is preferred and what is allowed in terms of professional action.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:17 PM on January 11, 2013


"soup to nuts" meaning from beginning to end. I had to actually ask someone what this meant when I first heard it.

That one's gotta be 100 years old. Yeah, pretty much.
posted by Miko at 6:22 PM on January 11, 2013


"Air cover" as in you are working on a project that will probably piss some people off in your company, so you get an executive to provide "air cover" in the event of a dispute.
posted by awfurby at 7:05 PM on January 11, 2013


"Around" when you mean "about." As in "do some thinking around our touchpoints."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:44 PM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


"What is the ask?" or "The ask is .........". Seriously?
posted by jasondigitized at 10:27 PM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a heard a problem described as 'not unovercomeable'.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 12:26 AM on January 12, 2013


Hug, for morning meeting, is used by part of my firm and it is hideous. I think it might be an acronym, but I can't bring myself to ask.

Heads-up gathering?
posted by flabdablet at 2:19 AM on January 12, 2013


'Huddle' or 'buzz' for a team meeting. 'A learn' instead of learning point (which I'm also not keen on) or simply 'something I learnt'. '110%' because I get that it means making an extra effort but don't know why it's always 110% not, say, 120% or 112% or whatever?
posted by kumonoi at 2:30 AM on January 12, 2013


The first time I heard "circle back", all I could think of was drive-by shootings.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 11:38 AM on January 12, 2013


"Living" pronounced like "alive," as in "making something public ("live") on the blog/website."

"Go ahead and live those changes to the about page."

Terrible.
posted by wam at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know if I'll ever *not* cringe when I hear "reveal" as a noun. You used to hear it occasionally on designer reality shows about ten years ago, but lately it's everywhere.
posted by kimota at 2:24 PM on January 12, 2013


In one meeting these terms were used:

* thought leader
* let me language that

In yet another meeting:
* finders, minders and grinders (what is it with end rhyme in business speak? Is it some harking back to the rhythmic smack talk in the Illiad?)
posted by jadepearl at 4:25 PM on January 12, 2013


Ha! This kind of language is a pet peeve of mine, and also a really bad habit.

I love the phrase "Kick the can down the road" to note deferral of dealing with something for some time.

I find that my colleagues are also constantly referring to documents as 'artifacts' or 'collateral'.

Edited to add: "wordsmith" or "massage" in place of editing text.
posted by so.i.herd.u.luv.butter at 1:27 AM on January 13, 2013


I thought 'verbiage' meaning any amount of text or as a synonym for 'content' was a thing, but maybe it's just us? Somehow that makes it even worse.

I hear "verbiage" all the time. Almost always by people who don't realize it means "a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content."
posted by kirkaracha at 1:03 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dack.com Web Economy Bullshit Generator, from around 2002.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:04 PM on January 15, 2013


Late addition: "get on the bus" to denote being a team player.
posted by The Deej at 10:02 PM on January 15, 2013


Two I'd never heard before recently:

The Book of Truth - noun - Ensure that the team is on the same page with a consistent set of facts. Sounds like something from Revalations.

"I think we agree that's in the Book of Truth, but let's put a pin in it for now and circle back after you ping Todd."

Parallel Process - verb - To do something at the same time.

"This is mission critical, so let's parallel process it, making sure to not let anything else fall off our plates."
posted by EarnestSchemingway at 2:26 AM on January 18, 2013


In case anyone is still here - this is text from an RFP response we actually sent to a potential client:

These teams are fully empowered to determine and deploy an optimal combination of solutions to solve challenges, leverage opportunities, and exceed objectives.
posted by Mister_A at 8:45 AM on January 21, 2013


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