The igeek guide to management speak
igeek and its previous incarnation, Insanely Great, were formed as a direct result of the Managing Director's experiences of working at <redacted multinational name>. The tipping point was, apparently, when he was told, "There's a train coming towards us, and it's got Windows NT written on it."
That attitude (they were about to move away from the Mac platform as a company), and the preponderance of horrible management speak, was enough to make James form his own, fiercely non-corporate, companies.
So, here is our handy guide to the bon mots your manager says. Each has a translation (or meaning), an example of everyday use, our estimated level of annoyance caused by said use, the subtext behind what he/she is actually saying, and, in the spirit of positivity, a proposed snappy alternative that we hope catches on.
Pick low-hanging fruit.
Meaning: do the easy stuff.
Example use: "Let's pick the low hanging fruit, then reformulate an impactful strategy, going forward."
Annoyance level: irritation causing migraine.
Subtext: "In order that we look like we're making progress, let's do the stuff a trained monkey could manage in half the time."
Snappy alternative: "Let's dig up the potatoes that are closest to the surface of the soil, as they're the easiest to retrieve, and after that we can dig deeper for the less easy to reach potatoes."
Meaning: *means nothing*
Example use: "You'll need to constantly reassess the position with regards key stakeholder feedback, going forward."
Annoyance level: eye-rolling, wishing for strong drink.
Subtext: "Try and stay alert. Or at least, awake."
Snappy alternative: "Time will progress as it has since nanoseconds after the big bang, assuming that the laws of physics with regards to time are correct as we currently understand them, or at least, our perception of time remains linear."
Reach out to.
Example use: "I thought I'd reach out to you in order to see if you salute if I run some ideas up the flagpole."
Annoyance level: tongue bite, drawing no small quantity of blood.
Subtext: "Before this goes to my boss, I thought I'd see what someone who's cleverer thinks."
Snappy alternative: "You and I will need to converse with one another; that can be via any mutually acceptable medium of communication."
Keep in the loop.
Example use: "Make sure you keep me in the loop, at every notable juncture; I really need to keep my ears close to the ground on this one."
Annoyance level: toe curl leading to violent cramps
Subtext: "Everything you do, every conversation you have, every email you send and receive, I want to know about. If you miss anything, I'll haul you in front of HR."
Snappy alternative: "Please ensure that <name/pronoun> is copied in to, or informed of, all communications that pertain to the matter in hand."
Meaning: send email
Example use: "After your post mortem meeting with the troops on the ground, ping me an email with an executive summary."
Annoyance level: exasperation and painfully dry mouth.
Subtext: "You're going to the meeting, I'm not, thank god. After, tell me what happened but don't waste my time: it's more precious than yours."
Snappy alternative: "After giving the matter some more than cursory thought, send me an electronic mail from your computer or mobile smart device with your answers or ideas as they may be important in the future, in some way."
Example use: "There's been a paradigm shift on the issue of software as a service."
Annoyance level: apoplexy quelled only by advanced mindfulness training.
Subtext: "I have combined bullshit management speak with a reference to a technology that I don't really understand. Hail me!"
Snappy alternative: "People have changed their minds, not necessarily as drastically as you might imagine, but things have certainly changed from the last time you were appraised of the situation."
Example use: "The new Samsung S7 sees a notable change in form factor."
Annoyance level: death of part of soul.
Subtext: "That's a direct quote from the CNet review that I memorised last night."
Snappy alternative: "One or more dimensions of the thing have altered since the last iteration in order to generate some new sales."
Blue sky thinking.
Meaning: clever thoughts
Example use: "We need some blue-sky thinking on this puppy in order to interest the movers and shakers in the VC market space."
Annoyance level: am I a psychopath? I feel like a psychopath.
Subtext: "Can you come up with some better ideas? I need to sell this company and retire to Bermuda."
Snappy alternative: "Rather than have our minds, metaphorically, in cloudy skies and therefore in some way limited by constraints that come from decreased long-distance vision, let instead our thoughts be on answers to problems, free from the metaphorical shackles of limitation."
Example use: "After you've touched base with me, bring Yvonne into the loop, going forward."
Annoyance level: causing thoughts of murder by machete or pencil through eyeball.
Subtext: "Yvonne left three months ago, but I've yet to notice."
Snappy alternative: "Keep in contact with me or others, as often as you can, hopefully without taking up so much time you can still get on with your actual work."
Ducks in a row.
Example use: "Let's get all our ducks in a row before the initial client concepting ideas shower."
Annoyance level: self-immolation looks suddenly attractive.
Subtext: "I hope we don't look like idiots tomorrow. We desperately need the work. Stay late and prepare tonight, while I go to the pub, okay?"
Snappy alternative: "Ensure that the research undertaken is coherent enough that we present at least a semblance of intelligence."