Saturday, 31 October 2009

Corporate Lingo

Managerial Pseudo-Jargon: a form of language widely used in corporate settings which is neither a jargon in the sense of the specialised language of a group of experts nor a jargon in the sense of meaningless verbal noise making but which uses metaphors and expressions which tend to make organisations sound more solid than they really are and make managerial work sound more "special" activity than it actually is. (Watson, 2006)

Ok, every profession has its specific jargon: doctors, lawyers, plumbers and sailors (probably also prostitutes have one). Therefore, also managers, and corporate people in general, deserve this right. But, I have the impression that the managerial jargon is not really necessary as others may be. Many things could be said in "normal" languague, but probably they wouldn't sound as cool. Probably, one of the main functions of this way of speaking is to discriminate between those who are "in" and those who are "out"; therefore a signalling function. Or maybe, as pointed out in the quotation at the beginning, to make things sound more solid and special than they actually are. Anyway, this time I don't want to enter into any philosophical question about the managerial jargon, I just want to make fun of it (Ok, I am probably going to use it myself in my career, but who cares for now). I surfed the web to look for lists and definitions of the most common business terms (if you are studying a business-related topic or if you're already working in any type of business environment you'll know most of them) and collected some here (there are thousands, I have taken the ones I liked the most). Enjoy!

The following are taken from

Absolutely: Over-enthusiastic, over-affirming four-syllable response used in place of a simple "yes."

Adhocracy: An organization with little structure run by creating a series of temporary cross-functional teams to do specific tasks. Depending upon execution, the result is either efficient problem-solving or utter chaos.

B2B: Business-to-business was too traditional sounding. B-to-b was too clunky. But B2B is way-cool and much easier to work into headlines and ads.

B2C: The abbreviation insanity continues. Now we have Business to Consumer.

Best practices: A term bandied about in business management circles and describes business tactics (and strategies) used in successful companies. The term, however, can be misleading. While "best practices" seems to imply success, they may have nothing to do with the actual success of the company.

Cannibalism: When a new marketing channel steals business from existing channels without adding new growth. While this is a legitimate business concern, it's downright frightening to the executive whose bonus is tied to the "old" channels.

Empowerment: The corporate mantra of the late '90s used to deceive subordinates into believing they actually were allowed to think and make decisions on their own.

First mover: In business, it’s the company that gets its new innovative product or service (or solution) to market first. Supposedly, this gives them a "first-mover advantage" and the opportunity to dominate the market and making it difficult for others to compete against them.

Leveraging our assets: This probably meant something once, but today EVERY COMPANY seems to leverage its assets. Doesn't it make sense that a company would put its resources, whether it's money, location or talent, to best use in order to make a profit?

Out of office: The annoying subject line of auto-reply e-mail that announces everyone else is on vacation or at a cool conference while you’re still slaving away at work.

Outshore: The practice of outsourcing a company's computer programming needs and development to a country where high tech labor is cheap (China and India come to mind).

Rightsizing: A perversion of "downsizing," meant to showcase the wisdom acquired by the "sizer" since his/her last foray into the re-scaling jungle.

Win/win: A fascinating business concept that somehow eliminates the "loser" in any deal or project. Loose translation: "This really works for us and we all pray it works for you, too."

The following are taken from

must be deadline oriented: you'll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

some public relations required: if we're in trouble, you'll go on tv and get us out of it.

self-motivated: management won't answer questions.

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.

The list could go on ad infinitum with other terms and expressions such as Brain storming, Learning curve, Big picture, Benchmark, Downsize, Synergy, Walk the talk, Strategic fit... But I guess it's enough for the moment!