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Buzz Words, Catch Phrases, and Manager Speak? 162

Posted by Cliff
from the fun-of-a-dilbertesque-nature dept.
rivendahl asks: "I have not seen, or perhaps not looked hard enough, to find an article that taps the core of the American business; buzz words. Personally, I hate buzz words, 'clik' words, cliches, catch phrases, and management speak (lingo). One of my favorite pet-peeves is the term, 'going forward'. This whole new concept of 'going forward' grates [on my] nerves. I currently work at a large international company. I have moved departments in the last six months. In my previous department we were made to read books and attend classes on 'positive, forward thinking' and 'action items', as well as classes on 'accepting total accountability'. It made me sick. Please, I ask the Slashdot community to share your displeasure or buzz words along with a few of your most hated management catch phrases."
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Buzz Words, Catch Phrases, and Manager Speak?

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  • by fobside (140397) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:31AM (#5277464) Homepage
    "It's time to think outside the box!"

    Who the hell created this box anyway, and how do I know when I'm outside of it?
    • by canthusus (463707) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @04:09AM (#5277728)
      On a course, we were told to "think outside the box".

      I pointed out that the embedded systems journal [embedded.com] uses the motto "Thinking inside the box".

      Nine people looked at me blankly. One doubled up laughing. Spot the geek!


      • Nine people looked at me blankly. One doubled up laughing. Spot the geek!

        Here's what we used to do at Litton.

        When the boss said something stupid, there'd be a dozen iron rings tapping on the boardroom table.

        "No..." [tap tap tap] "...I think the marketing department has sold the customer a product which isn't actually possible with our current understanding of the laws of the universe...

        [Going up to the overhead projector to ask a question about a budget issue] "Well Boss, I..." [accidentally tapping iron ring on overhead projector] "...think that this budget is best described in the form of a homogeneous, non-exact linear differential equation of the form..." [tap tap tap of iron ring on overhead projector while writing long differential equation on transparency]

        And finally, nothing pisses off the marketing department like asking them to take the square root of a negative number. Except actually being able to do it.

    • You've never discovered the full startling impact of that phrase until you've been presented with a diagram of a box and an arrow that ... ghod help me, the horror, the horror ... leads to a point outside it! This pulls off the seemingly impossible trick of being a totally literal interpretation that simultaneously fails to explain anything at all.

      I know. I was presented with said diagram within two weeks of joining my employer.

      Ade_
      /
    • Thinking outside the box is so in the box anymore.

    • Imagine that you're trying to teach a business student to work in the business world.

      Okay, you teach terminology. You teach a couple of business and management models. You cover some basic topics in marketing, and stuff. And then you're *done*. The only thing left is experience, which isn't so easy to teach. And yet you have to give the student four years of education. So what do you do? Fall back on some cute, in-a-nutshell phrases that summarize fixes to a few of the problems that you personally ran into.

      I've always been very, very unimpressed with the education business students recieve. That does *not* mean that I necessarily think that business as a job is trivial, just that it's very difficult to teach students "business". It doesn't neatly break down into rules.
    • "It's time to think outside the box!" My standard response: Then why the eff did you put us in cubicles?
      • "It's time to think outside the box!" My standard response: Then why the eff did you put us in cubicles?

        You took the bait. You differentiated yourself as a non-compliant player and I assume you were rewarded accordingly. Please don't take my statement the wrong way, I am not saying that the system is just, I am just calling the rules of the game as I see them.

    • It's actually a famous puzzle. You're shown a diagram of a three by three array of dots. You're given a pencil and asked to draw four straight lines that will cross every one of the dots without lifting your pencil from the paper.

      When properly presented, there's plenty of white space around the array of dots, but people tend to only consider lines that lie within an imaginary square bounding the dots. That is, they assume that there's an unstated condition that the lines have to stay "within the box." The solution, of course, involves lines that extend beyond the boundaries of the box.

      Not that it matters, but that's the original referent of the phrase. To solve this particularly puzzle, you need to think outside the box.
  • Leverage (Score:4, Funny)

    by Iamthefallen (523816) <Gmail name: Iamthefallen> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:35AM (#5277475) Homepage Journal

    Leverage, ugh, it's most often found instead of "use", and it tends to sound horribly wrong each and every time. Perhaps correct grammar and usage, but it doesn't help the lanugage flow, it is overly cumbersome and totally unecessary.
    Just leverage use instead.

    • Re:Leverage (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You mentioned the words grammar and usage in your post, and have therefore triggered this grammar/usage hypocrisy bot. You said:

      Perhaps correct grammar and usage, but it doesn't help the lanugage flow, it is overly cumbersome and totally unecessary.

      This is an egregious offence, otherwise known as a comma splice. No comment on use of leverage as a verb!!! That is beyond comment.
    • Leverage, ugh, it's most often found instead of "use"

      I would prefer "leverage" to the more common obfuscation of "use" heard around here: "utilize." Nobody uses anything any more, we utilize things.

      Other verbs that I've had about enough of: to empower, to facilitate, to take ownership of.
    • I could have given a whole plethora of annoying consulspeak my bosses use, but I am right now too busy trying to create more synergistic value-driven services in our company's core competency.
    • I think what you find is that "leverage" is supposed to be more like "use to gain additional benefit". It is what happens when you use something, and get a bonus on top.

      A good example is: "use contraception when having sex". You could quite validly say "leverage contraception when having sex". Not only do you get a good bonk, but you don't produce any more babies.

      I hope that clarifies the issue for you a bit.

      /mike
      • Re:Leverage (Score:4, Funny)

        by david duncan scott (206421) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:09AM (#5279045)
        Only if the contraceptive method produces a bonus. Using a diaphragm, for instance, avoids pregancy, but that's eaxactly what it's supposed to do, so there's no leverage involved. Using a bumpy latex condom, on the other hand, may increase your partner's pleasure, and prevents STD's as well as pregnancy -- that's leverage.
    • What's funny about "leverage" that in the case what you leverage on, do fail, you sink deeper than in the case it fails without you leveraging on it. Just ask a commodity futures trader.

      Sch.
    • It's funny that you never hear about "fulcruming" ...
      Using an existing asset like code as the fulcrum rather than as the lever would make more sense.

      The first time I saw the word "leveraging" I thought they meant "lever aging" and wondered if it meant to make a lever seem older than it was, to determine the age of a lever, or maybe there was some quality of levers that changed as they got older.

      I guess I was thinking outside the box that day because the box was full of a bunch of old levers.

      And have you ever noticed "ramping up" usually means someone is getting screwed?

      urg... too early in the day for incline plane jokes.
  • by reaper20 (23396) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:36AM (#5277481) Homepage
    My manager to our customer:

    "We chose Oracle and Java because of it's robusticity."

    That's not as sad as the people sitting there nodding pretending they know what the hell he's talking about.
    • by charlie763 (529636) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:52AM (#5277537) Homepage
      "Robusticity" is a prefectly cromulent word here in Springfield.
    • "We chose Oracle and Java because of it's robusticity."

      It's strange that IT people resent management's jargon so much, when IT workers spend the day talking about "gentoo" and "linux" and "emacs" and "fdisk" and many, many other words which don't even exist in English. What is it, resentment that there is another group of people with a private language they use amongst themselves? Every group has their own dialect, just listen to doctors or lawyers or auto mechanics talking amongst themselves.

      "Going forward" means "in the future", but it implies making events unfold rather than just waiting for things to happen. It's a subtle but important difference. "Leverage" is more than just "use", it implies that the thing you are using gives you a disproportionate advantage, like a lever and a pivot. "Synergy" implies emergent properties of a complex system, not just "things working together".

      Frankly, when everyone uses a word, then that becomes a real word. And if you refuse to pick up new words and concepts, you risk irrelevance.
      • by david duncan scott (206421) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:36AM (#5279245)
        Well, God knows that IT has a rich collection of jargon, but "gentoo" and "linux" are simply proper nouns, and theefore have no more need to appear in a dictionary than "Jim" or "Bob" or "General Motors". "Robusticity", on the other hand, is simply mangled, like "embiggen" or "speechify" -- it may have a place in slang or humour, but it would bother me if it came from an evidently serious manager of a service important to my company.

        It's OK with me if my surgeon says that he'll "put his foots in gear and locomote" down to the bar for a drink after work, but if he sits in his office and tells me that he's going to "surgify that malignancicity" I'm looking for new doc.

      • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @10:36AM (#5279247) Homepage Journal
        but there are plenty of stupid speakers.

        The problem is not having words or phrases that imply subtle differences in meaning. That is a good thing that enriches the language. The problem is when people use phrases that should imply a meaning other than they intend, in order to sound jazzy. Since they don't actually mean to imply a difference between "leverage" and "use", or "impact" and "affect", gradually these phrases become completely synonymous. The language is robbed of one more means for expressing subtle shades of meaning.

        Technical words, such as "Gentoo", or "fdisk" are useful, compact words wtih precise meaning, like "vector" or "matrix" in mathematics. Every field has its jargon, which serves well within the field but are inscrutable from the outside. Management has its own useful jargon: "ROI","balance sheet", "MOU" etc.

        Managementspeak, however, is a completely different animal. It isn't shorthand, but more of an elaborately ornamented longhand. It tries to sound like it is saying more than it is. It dresses up the simple to sound profound, the empty to sound substantive. It is inherently deceptive; it is the language of exploitation and chicanery.

        People who make words into talismans are in danger of being enfogged in their own linguistic obfuscation. The fetish word "synergy" has lead meany boards into unwise corporate mergers, because it sounded like more than a vague and unfounded wish. People who once held stock in Time Warner probably wish there was no such word in the dictionary now.
        • What a beautiful sensible post.

          I think what annoys me about managementspeak is that it's often reused so mindlessly. "Coopetition" is an interesting neologism the first time you hear it, and it perhaps expresses a worthwhile concept. I think the heart of this problem is that people want to sound like they're up-to-date on all the latest management fads.

          My personal bugbear at the moment is "exponentially". This has a precise mathematical meaning, but people use it carelessly to mean "rapidly". I have heard people describe something as "exponentially increasing", when in fact it is clearly literally linearly increasing, only with a high constant.

          Oh, yeah, "literally" is abused terribly too. "Slashdot has literally billions of trolls".
      • You are confusing jargon with obfuscation and pompostiy.

        Just as a doctor might refer to a "minor lac" (minor laceration - a small tear) or a DSP guy might refer to an IIR (infinite impulse response - a class of digital filter) or a lawyer to a "writ of habeus corpus" (literally "present the body" or "let me see my client dammit") in order to save time when discussing their trade, an IT person might refer to "a distro" or "a hotfix" when discussing their trade with another IT person.

        However, there is a great difference between using jargon with speaking with a fellow practicioner, and using buzzwords you ill-comprehend yourself to obfuscate your meaning and hide that you have little to say.

        For a PHB to say "From this point in time and moving forward, we must productize this feature to garner mindshare and provide perceived value-add to our installbase" rather than "We need to make this something people want so we can sell it" is just a way for the PHB to sound more intelligent than he is.

        A true professional, when addressing someone outside his field, will use jargon only when unavoidable, and will define the terms he uses as best as he can. For example, what made Dr. Carl Sagan such a great science presenter was his ability to avoid the jargon of science and speak simply.

        As the aphorism sayth: Eschew Obfuscation!
      • It's strange that IT people resent management's jargon so much, when IT workers spend the day talking about "gentoo" and "linux" and "emacs" and "fdisk" and many, many other words which don't even exist in English. What is it, resentment that there is another group of people with a private language they use amongst themselves? Every group has their own dialect, just listen to doctors or lawyers or auto mechanics talking amongst themselves.


        No doubt, you have your finger on the motive for such awful business jargon. The difference between business jargon and other jargon is that legal, technical, medical jargon is usually the result of new concepts or new things requiring new names and verbs.

        But business is still business and it's still a matter of leading and managing people, just as it was thousands of years ago.

        There is a percieved need among business folk, particularly marketing, to bamboozle the people they're talking to. The hope is that the verbal prowess of the speaker will stun a customer or employee in to meek acceptance. It may work among those with a poorer understanding of language. But for those of us with a decent education and even a meagre experience, this will almost certainly backfire.

        This is the arrogance in management. To think that your staff or customers can't see through a transparent attempt at posturing is ignorant and demeaning. When I hear this sort of talk, I ignore it. This is posturing. One doesn't lead by posture. One leads by directing and focussing staff.

        These are the PHBs who make so much fodder for Scott Adams. I'm amazed that nobody else has managed to capitalize on this foolishness as well as he has.

          • bamboozle
          • meagre (?)
          • arrogance
          • transparent
          • fodder
          I'm taking your advice, and ignoring (almost) everything you just said. You succeeded in blowing enough hot air to float a hippo, which I'm sure was your intent...we get the joke.

          As for your leadership mantra, a directed and focused staff is only as good as the lens from which it shines. I believe it is better to stay out of the way, let them learn and do for themselves, and only surface when it is time to tell others to leave them alone. This means if you give them the proper tools and skills, they will work the rest out on their own and be all the better for it. They won't need/expect a nod from you each time they lick a stamp.
          • Y'know, your reading comprehension would improve dramatically if you'd concentrate on more than just a handful of adjectives.

            ...a directed and focused staff is only as good as the lens from which it shines. I believe it is better to stay out of the way, let them learn and do for themselves, and only surface when it is time to tell others to leave them alone. This means if you give them the proper tools and skills, they will work the rest out on their own and be all the better for it. They won't need/expect a nod from you each time they lick a stamp.


            I don't know how you got that from what I wrote. I didn't suggest that hands off management was bad, I didn't suggest it was good. It's a tool --just like so many that you'll find in a good manager's bag of motivational tools. However, good managers of technical programs don't bother blowing smoke at their employees. Much of the managerese jargon is designed to do just that. Good managers don't use it on their employees and if they use it to communicate with their bosses, they'd better be very careful that both sides mean the same thing.

            I envision managerese jargon as one of those secret decoder ring things. The folks in the country club make this stuff up to stay ahead of the crowd. Those who use yesterday's jargon words are looked upon as out of date goobers who need the assistance of the latest management consulting staff. Naturally, the nice fellas in the country club would be happy to oblige for a price.

            As for what management style you use, well, that depends on what kind of person the manager is, and what sorts of things motivate the employees. I have nothing whatsoever to say in that regard. Every situation is different. Those who think that one style of management is the one true method are deluding themselves.

  • by Polo (30659) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:40AM (#5277487) Homepage
    I think you're on the same page as this onion piece [theonion.com]
  • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:56AM (#5277545)
    A couple of years ago we were starting a new software company. We were going to make digital media asset management systems. We were going to be like Media 360 or Cumulus only better, if those names mean anything to you.

    One day I was talking to an important prospective customer, a customer who did a lot of different things with their media. They asked me how one system could solve problem X and problem Y, when problems X and Y didn't really have much to do with each other at that company.

    "We don't consider asset management to be a single problem," I said. "Instead, we think of it in terms of a problem space. There are lots of problems that can all be called asset management problems, even though they don't really have anything to do with each other. Rather than trying to solve the asset management problem-- of which there really is no such thing-- we instead apply our technology to the different problems we encounter in the asset management problem space."

    A week later, the entire fucking marketing department was talking about problem spaces. "Problem space" became a synonym for "problem," which is the exact opposite of what I mean. I sat in on a marketing meeting once, and heard the marketing manager say, in all seriousness, "How are we doing on those data sheet problem spaces?" I nearly lost it.

    That company is now teetering on the brink of collapse. I'm no longer with them-- I was ousted by the president because I guess I laughed too hard at his use of the word "paradigm" one time-- but if you get somebody in your office talking about a "problem space," throw him out immediately.
  • Krusty: So he's proactive, huh?

    Lady: Oh, God, yes. We're talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.

    Writer: Excuse me, but 'proactive' and 'paradigm'? Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I'm accusing you of anything like that. .....[pause]..... I'm fired, aren't I?

    Myers: Oh, yes! - The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog; I dunno, something along the line of say... Poochie, only more proactive.


    -Sean
  • You have to ask yourself, "Is this good for the company?"
  • Industry speak (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darCness (151868)
    Not all are management speak; many are just standard
    IT industry speak/marketing speak:

    "synergy"

    "market forces"

    "leverage" instead of "use"

    "solution" instead of "product" or "suite of products"

    "community" for any group, regardless of whether
    they have any real commonality besides using a single
    vendor's product(s)

    "strategy"

    Here's one list [kith.org]

    and another [jeffgainer.com]

    Oh, and try the Web Economy Bullshit Generator [dack.com]

    • Re:Industry speak (Score:3, Informative)

      by ader (1402)
      • "Turnkey solution" - the 'n' is silent.
      • "mission-critical" - that one's in poor taste at the moment.
      • "best of breed" - pampered, fragile thing that coughs and dies with the first breath of cold air.

      Not forgetting of course: "We're the dot in .com" - and our marketing dept puts the "wank" in "wankers".

      Ade_
      /
      • Best-of-breed makes me crack up every time, especially when they're using it to describe something like IIS or MS Exchange.

        That being said, OSS needs to have a *real* exchange killer (that includes calendaring).
    • Solution is my favorite pet peeve. Unless we're going into the workplace, beakers in hand, we're probably in no danger of making solutions.

      Of course we have only Journey to blame for the current buzzrod of "Solutions" with their hit song from the movie Tron: "Only Solutions". :)


    • "market forces"


      It's the sum of "things" driving the direction your sector is in. i.e. 9/11 and security or christmas

      "solution" instead of "product" or "suite of products"


      Some solutions aern't products. Products when applied in certain ways solve problems. i.e. word isn't a software solution for solving math problems or a floppy drive isn't a hardware solution for backing up large servers.

      This is why we have systems and biz analysists between business and technology. They can cut through the bullshit and usually give technologists specifications to us, the software engineers of the world.

      And believe you me, they think the same of us. SDSL and ADSL. It's a freakin' DSL line. They work pretty much the same as each other, except one has the same upload speed. In the technology world, we just love acronyms, really. We have HTML and XHTML, granted, one is a derivative of the other, would it be bad to call it HTML 5.0? I really doubt it. At least we got it right with L2 and L3 cache... I think. L just stands for level.
  • by ez76 (322080) <slashdot@e73.141596.us minus pi> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @03:20AM (#5277600) Homepage
    As often as these terms are used gratuitously, they do serve an important function.

    I guarantee that all of you, at some point in your careers, will have the opportunity to work with people who whine, complain about how things are all fucked up, and bemoan how nobody listens to them and everyone is stupid.

    Generally these same people have no action items, are the least proactive, have no sense of accountability, and in general, do not execute (yet another term).

    Anyone can throw ideas and opinions around. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to recognize that something is horribly wrong and to point it out. It's quite another to take ownership (yet another one) and do something about it.

    If for no other reason, these terms get thrown around alot to remind people that they are ultimately there to contribute, further the company's goals (or actively try to change them) and not just to complain.

    No, I'm not a manager but have been around long enough to know talk is cheap.

    • I guarantee that all of you, at some point in your careers, will have the opportunity to work with people who whine, complain about how things are all fucked up, and bemoan how nobody listens to them and everyone is stupid.
      Hey, I worked with that guy. My boss told him he was essitially an asshole durring his evaluation meeting. Asshole , now there's a buzz word.
    • Generally these same people have no action items, are the least proactive, have no sense of accountability, and in general, do not execute (yet another term).

      That's why IT is the key to any successful business strategy. You simply send these people to the sysadmin, have him run a "chmod +x" on these people, and then send them happily back to work.

    • Generally these same people have no action items, are the least proactive,

      You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      "Active" is the opposite of "reactive". "Proactive" has nothing to do with active/reactive. The original definition had to do with learning, and the fact that information recieved earlier tends to pre-empt information recieved later. First impressions are the most important. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. That's proactive.

      Unfortunately, this word has been subject to managment-speak and yuppie-abuse for so long that the incorrect usage is now listed in the dictionary as well.
  • by Strange Ranger (454494) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @03:53AM (#5277690)
    school of humor...

    -It's good we're doing this Moving Forward, my time machine is broken.
    -I agree on the 5 Action Items, let's call them Tasks for short...
    -Hey, don't be Touching My Base.
    -That's not Deliverables that's DiGiorno!
    -Outside the Box, good idea I need to stretch my legs.
    -Value Added? No just for fun.
    -Let's Interface? I think that's against corporate policy.

    -I didn't Take Ownership, I leased. Now it's John's Action Item. I Thought Outside The Box and Fired It Down the Chain, it's On His Plate now. We're going to Interface on Wednesday. Moving Forward he will be Tasked with this Deliverable. He is Totally Accountable, a real Team Player. So, wanna Do Lunch? Oh I understand if you're Time Constricted. Well it was good we Got This Out On The Table, glad we're On The Same Page with this. We'll Touch Base later, b-bye!

    But on the plus side, I do hear a little less of that crap now.
    • -Hey, don't be Touching My Base.

      I'm glad someone said that; I HATE that phrase! "Let's touch base ..." "I'm glad you called to touch base ... "

      Throw in the occasional "copacetic" (who SAYS that?) and you've gotcherself one Stewart-Grade Nerve Grinder.

  • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @04:21AM (#5277758) Homepage

    All those irritating managers with their incomprehensible buzzwords. I'll just go back to work.

    I'm currently writing a Web App for our intranet where we try to use mostly Open Source (or rather, anything that's free as in beer - since when is beer free anyway?), using J2EE on Tomcat, with Java Server Pages because dumb CGIs are just too damn fast, or something. We have no design phase to speak of but that's ok since we plan to throw this version away. I connect to MySQL with JDBC but I'm going to need some sort of ODBC bridge to also connect it with Access, if we go that route. I must seperate the presentation tier and the business tier, and somehow magic a third tier into existence because that's J2EE - or so it seems. Some HTML hacks in the same office use a language called PHP, but that's not a real language. My main concern is to sneak Python in somewhere.

    (That could have been much worse, but I thought I'd stay close to the truth - it's easily enough to scare managers away :))

    • Shit. I didn't even realize that was supposed to sound like jabberwocky until the end of your comment. Too much time working with fellow geeks I guess :-)
    • that is amusing, as intended, but there is an important difference between it and the buzzword-speak the original article is about: it has meaning. it may be loaded with jargon, but how many of those words could be removed or replaced without losing the meaning? how many of the acronyms could be expanded without losing clarity?

      jargon exists to ease communication in specialized subjects, buzzwords exist to give a false impression.
  • wtf is the value-add to all your whining, people ;-) ? Please, can we all just get back to value-adding to our core competencies and saving money in the bottom line?
  • So, in this vein, what exactly is the difference between "I currently work at ..." and "I work at..."? Are you anticipating getting fired?

    (Sorry, little joke. "Anticipating" doesn't mean what most people think it does. To anticipate being fired, you might stop worrying about your action items and objectives, knowing they won't make any difference. It implies jumping the gun somehow. Say "expecting" or "hoping for" when that's what you mean.)

    Techies have their own crappy jargon, but it's used more to stall than to confuse or mislead people.

  • by majestynine (605494) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @04:53AM (#5277821)
    Here's a little clarification of corporate lingo.

    COMPETITIVE SALARY:
    We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.

    JOIN OUR FAST-PACED COMPANY:
    We have no time to train you.

    CASUAL WORK ATMOSPHERE:
    We don't pay enough to expect that you'll dress up well; a couple of the
    real daring guys wear earrings.

    MUST BE DEADLINE ORIENTED:
    You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

    SOME OVERTIME REQUIRED:
    Some time each night and some time each weekend.

    DUTIES WILL VARY:
    Anyone in the office can boss you around.

    MUST HAVE AN EYE FOR DETAIL:
    We have no quality control.

    CAREER-MINDED:
    Female Applicants must be childless (and remain that way).

    APPLY IN PERSON:
    If you're old, fat or ugly you'll be told the position has been filled.

    NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE:
    We have filled the job. Our call for resumes is just a legal formality.

    SEEKING CANDIDATES WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF EXPERIENCE:
    You'll need it to replace three people who just left.

    PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS A MUST:
    You're walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

    REQUIRES TEAM LEADERSHIP SKILLS:
    You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.

    Enjoy
  • by 0x20 (546659) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @04:55AM (#5277830) Homepage
    Web Economy Bullshit Generator [dack.com] I thought this was common knowledge...
  • Pompous words (Score:1, Informative)

    by inf0stud (313976)
    Utilize - it means use.
  • i never really like people who "touch base" with each other.

    a little to similar to touching cloth.

    PS

    sorry for the blank comment. hit return instead of tab :-/
  • "Raising the bar" I already do more work than all the reast of my bloody coworkers... and now I need to do more?

    "You have to take a step back to get higher" Uh... hello, earth to management. I want a better paying job, I don't want to go to a lesser paying job in hopes that you'll promote me, and I'll still get paid less...
  • In your next meeting distribute bingo cards with buzzwords instead of numbers. Extra points if someone actually shouts "BINGO" when they've ticked off all the buzzwords!
    • You're talking about "bullshit bingo". We used to play it on conference calls. Have an instant messenger session open with your friends, or be in a conference room on mute, and when you get what would be a bingo, you announce it with "bullshit".
  • once i had to change the entire comm protocol of a chat client i wrote (and other guy in the company had to change the server) to a slow xml-like mess, because the boss wanted it to say xml on the box.
  • by PeekabooCaribou (544905) <slashdot@bwerp.net> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:19AM (#5278305) Homepage Journal

    My Cultural Anthropology class had an assigned reading on "Doublespeak": Language, Appearance, and Reality: Doublespeak in 1984, by William D. Lutz of Rutgers University. It reviews gems like TV's with "nonmulticolor capability", and "ballistically induced aperture in the subcutaneous environment" (a bullet hole).

    Lutz, along with being a Professor of English, was involved with the National Council of Teachers of English Committee on Public Doublespeak (that's a mouthful), as well as the editor of the Quarterly Review of Doublespeak.

    The NCTE has only a placeholder page [ncte.org] for their Quarterly Review, but it does offer some useful information on their mailing list. A search for "doublespeak" on the same site brings back many hits for their George Orwell Award [ncte.org].

  • by MaxQuordlepleen (236397) <el_duggio@hotmail.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:47AM (#5278414) Homepage

    Introduce some noise into the system. I tend to rely on "We'll burn that bridge when we come to it", which I first saw in Another Fine Myth by Asprin, back fifteen years or so.

    It serves as a good shit-detector actually, because the people who laugh are the people who actually listen to what is being said to them.

  • by Raetsel (34442) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @07:57AM (#5278438)

    It's not just management that must be faulted for using needlessly complex language, engineers are guilty of bowing to the peer-pressure as well. The phrase "doublespeak" has been around longer than I have, and has many children -- "nukespeak," for example.

    Searching Google, I find that "nukespeak" doesn't have the meaning I learned years ago. Apparently, its' popular meaning relates to the PR campaigns attempting to sway public opinion toward atomic power. The meaning I learned was entirely different -- it referred to the insanely complex, self-important language used when something bad happened (no matter how minor!) and one had to file an incident report with the NRC.

    You'd see phrases like this:

    • gravitational disassembly -- "I dropped it and it broke."

    • spontaneous energetic disassembly -- "The damn thing just exploded!"

    • vehicle-assisted structural realignment -- "Joe backed a forklift into the wall."
    There were hundreds of these oddball phrases... but it's been something like 15 years since I saw this, and a Google search for funny "NRC incident report" [google.com] returns zero results -- which means, I guess, that (by decree?) NRC incident reports just aren't funny. (NRC reports are only available to specific people in the first place, so it's not as if they're out there on the web somewhere.)
  • yeah, just a heads up there...

    We're expecting a site visit for a client, so i'm gonna have to ask you to close the loop on that project you've been working on.
  • That's got to be my least favorite, except of course when people mean it literally.

    "We did this 9 month project, and at the end of the day, the client got a poorly designed, difficult to maintain, and overpriced solution."
  • "How well do you know _______'s job?"
  • Oh, man. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by soggy noggin (649600)
    I was until very recently a manager at a certain online retailer. It seems to me that buzzwords are the result of verbing nouns. ("Verbing", get it? I'm so clever.)

    "Let's take the 30,000 foot view and drill down from there. Going forward, let's leverage our deliverables in an impactful and robust way."

    The improper use of "impact" is one of my favorites. Call me anal, but "impact" is not a verb. It is a noun. One cannot "impact" anything, and the only thing which may be impacted is a tooth.

    • Thought you might find this interesting.

      From dictionary.com:

      Usage Note: The use of impact as a verb meaning âoeto have an effectâ often has a big impact on readers. Eighty-four percent of the Usage Panel disapproves of the construction to impact on, as in the phrase social pathologies, common to the inner city, that impact heavily on such a community; fully 95 percent disapproves of the use of impact as a transitive verb in the sentence Companies have used disposable techniques that have a potential for impacting our health. ÂIt is unclear why this usage provokes such a strong response, but it cannot be because of novelty. Impact has been used as a verb since 1601, when it meant âoeto fix or pack in,â and its modern, figurative use dates from 1935. It may be that its frequent appearance in the jargon-riddled remarks of politicians, military officials, and financial analysts continues to make people suspicious. Nevertheless, the verbal use of impact has become so common in the working language of corporations and institutions that many speakers have begun to regard it as standard. It seems likely, then, that the verb will eventually become as unobjectionable as contact is now, since it will no longer betray any particular pretentiousness on the part of those who use it. See Usage Note at contact.

      Even though verb usage is commonplace, most people still hate its verb form.

  • ...... I do not think you know what this word means...

    Inigo Montoya
  • I actually quit my last job because I had too much pressure to be a "team player" and "lead taker" (I'm actually very "Dominant" according to any personality tests I've taken (with a grain of salt)); and my "team" consisited of JUST me. The whole company was 4 people.

    There were other reasons for my departure, of course, but getting PHB-speak was a main one.

    S
  • Here's a true classic of the "biz-buzz" genre:

    Letter to Microsoft HR [cinepad.com]

    Enjoy :-)

  • glitch.

    The all purpose descriptor for ANYTHING technical that goes wrong. From a dead hard drive, to the code red worm, to an intern that tripped over the power cord.....all you have to do is say that there has been a "computer glitch" and people nod their heads in understanding and let it slide.
  • Have you noticed how these phrases go out of fashion after a year or so?

    IN at the moment:
    business process re-engineering
    pro-active
    Total Quality Management
    change culture

    OUT:
    Zero Defects
    Synergy
    Five nines
    Empowerment

    Latest trend: inappropriate use of capital letters, for example 'quality' is always writtern as 'Quality'
  • Scott Adams occasionally publishes the Dogbert New Ruling Class newsletter [dilbert.com]. Each newsletter seems to contain a dozen or more of these little treats: the latest uglified jargon directly from the mouths of Induhviduals. Subscribe, or read them from the web.
  • Some people where I work say "Walk the talk". Which, aside from being totally cliche, is wrong. You Talk the Talk. You Walk the Walk. You don't Walk the Talk. It's worse when it's high level employees that are doing these things.
  • Since when did people become "resources". "We're going to need some more resources assigned to this problem." We're people dammit, not tables and chairs!
    • Re:Resources... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eibhear (307877)

      I once had it out with a few people in a meeting. I was working for the software development organisation for an internet bank. Not once in my first five months there was the opportunity to use "resources" instead of "people" passed up. It most annoyed me when it was used in the singular: "We have a new resource starting on Monday..."

      During a meeting, therefore, upon the third or fourth time the word was used to describe people, I ask that we stop doing that and return to the employees their humanity. No one of the 4 or 5 others in the meeting would agree that lumping people with PCs and meeting rooms was less than fair. In fact, they all agreed it was acceptable for the word to be applied even to them.

      It wasn't until I pointed out that if they were throwing a party, they wouldn't invite 12 resources, or that their children were, therefore, resources or that they wouldn't refer to the CEO of the company as a resource that they began to see what I was talking about.

      My tactic that day didn't create much effect, but at least I think I impressed enough one of the people present.

      Éibhear

  • From my last job "synergy" was the big buzz word. Also on my list of dislikes are "paradigm shift" and "proactive". Proactive is a big one at my job now since we obvioulsy want to advocate a proactive approach to everything while taking a very reactive role (as to not cause waves). Since I work in a non-tech atmosphere now, I don't seem to encounter the typical words as much. Now I get things that are more along the lines of "a life of service" and a "community of learning".
  • by Ratbert42 (452340) on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @02:47PM (#5281610)
    Can someone net this whole thread for me?
  • I forgot to add my displeasure of certain buzz words used by our US president. In a way he's considered a manager and definitely has his own set of words. How about weapons of mass destruction or axis of evil? There are tons more, too many to list. I find they get on my nerves just as much as the ones used by people at my job.
  • What you need is a good Buzzword Bingo card [petdance.com]. Just print off a page, and then reload to get a fresh card. Print up a stack for your next all-company meeting [brunching.com].
  • Jargon (Score:2, Funny)

    by derfel (611157)
    My wife decided to start using this management-speak at home after some Franklin-Craven training at work. She's my ex-wife now.

    Moral: Don't marry stupid people.
  • by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Tuesday February 11, 2003 @05:49PM (#5283556)

    Oddly enough, The Economist's Style Guide [economist.com] is dead-set against this sort of buzzword bullshit.

    They've got a great list of unnecessary words [economist.com].

    Here's an excerpt from their section on jargon [economist.com]:

    Avoid [jargon]. You may have to think harder if you are not to use jargon, but you can still be precise. Technical terms should be used in their proper context; do not use them out of it. In many instances simple words can do the job of exponential (try fast), interface (frontier or border) and so on. If you find yourself tempted to write about affirmative action or corporate governance, you will have to explain what it is; with luck, you will then not have to use the actual expression. Avoid, above all, the kind of jargon that tries either to dignify nonsense with seriousness (Working in an empowering environment [...]) or to obscure the truth

    I notice they sell a hardcopy of the style guide, you could use it to bludgeon problem co-workers to death.

    Mark Twain might have said it best:

    Eschew Surplusage.
    Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
  • In Salon [salon.com]. I laughed because I can relate to dealing with people like that (though not necessarily while trying to get hired). And you gotta love the lingo.

  • Where's the 'so what' in this presentation?


    The single worst one I ever had was 'action item' used as a verb--"can you please action this item?"

  • The CEO of my former employer used this a lot when he should have been saying something like "liquidate" or "sell".

    I mean, it sounds like something you do with a brand of laundry detergent. "Monetize your shirts!"

  • This seems to be how buzzwords get formed. From the Jargon File v4.3.3, in the overgeneralization [catb.org] section:

    Also, note that all nouns can be verbed. E.g.: "All nouns can be verbed", "I'll mouse it up", "Hang on while I clipboard it over", "I'm grepping the files". English as a whole is already heading in this direction (towards pure-positional grammar like Chinese); hackers are simply a bit ahead of the curve.

    ...

    However, hackers avoid the unimaginative verb-making techniques characteristic of marketroids, bean-counters, and the Pentagon; a hacker would never, for example, `productize', `prioritize', or `securitize' things. Hackers have a strong aversion to bureaucratic bafflegab and regard those who use it with contempt.

    QED, geeks are guilty of it too - but it's more of a shorthand in the geek/hacker communities.

    While it is certainly true that all nouns can be verbed and vice versa, the bureaucratic bafflegab method that suits and such seem to enjoy using is considered extremely lazy - especially the technique I call "izetizing", which is simply appending the "-ize" suffix as to verb a noun. As demonstrated from a previous post, "monetize" gets some popularity from those who would otherwise mean "liquidate" or "sell", the latter if they just wanted to sound like regular old Joes. (The problem with using regular cut and dry terms like "sell" versus "monetize" is semantics. You "sell" something if you need the money to run the company, but you "monetize" an "asset" if you want to "infuse money" into an "investment". Naturally, both mean the exact same thing. Don't ask how I know this, it's less painful.)

    So as such, you can see that suits do this so they sound more important. The Armani isn't enough to make them look important, they have to speak in bullsh*t terms. They're basically very well paid politicians - lotsa hot air and little to show for it other than the ubiquitous MBA, which apparently tells people that they have trained in suitspeak 101 and other courses that show just how to be an idiot while simultaneously making yourself look as wise and sage as the likes of Stephen Hawking.

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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