The Friday Funny: A glossary of management terms

As evaluators with a commitment to utilization, no matter where we are in the world, we all have to work with managers. Like any species, management has its own ‘culture’, with norms, values, boundaries that say who’s in and who’s out, and of course artifacts like dress code and – the one we are offering guidance on this week – dialect.

Ever wondered what some of those commonly used terms really mean? We found (and tweaked) this helpful definitive guide on the ABC for MBAs (stuff you don’t learn at Harvard) site. Original author unknown. A useful adjunct to the Guide to the Terminology of Scientific Papers we posted a couple of months ago. Enjoy!

Crash Course in Management Speak

Management Speak Phrase

True Meaning

That’s very interesting. I disagree.
I don’t disagree. I disagree.
I don’t totally disagree with you. You may be right, but I don’t care.
You have to show some flexibility. You have to do it whether you want to or not.
We have an opportunity. You have a problem.
You obviously put a lot of work into this. This is awful.
In a perfect world. Just get it working and get it out the door.
Help me to understand. I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t think you do either.
You just don’t understand our business. We don’t understand our business.
You need to see the big picture. My boss thinks it’s a good idea.
If you do want to discuss it further, my door is always open. My mind is made up. I am adamant on the subject. There is no room for discussion.
I appreciate your contribution. My mind is made up. I am adamant on the subject. There is no room for discussion.
We’re going to follow a strict methodology here. We’re going to do it my way.
I didn’t understand the e-mail you said you sent. Can you give me a quick summary? I still can’t figure out how to start the e-mail program.
Cost of ownership is a significant issue. We want all of the benefits and none of the costs.
We have to leverage our resources. You’re working weekends.
Individual contributor. Employee who does real work.
Your project is on hold. We’ve put a bullet in it.
Wrong answer. You didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear.
You needed to be more proactive. You should have protected me from myself.
I’d like your buy-in on this. I want someone else to blame when this thing bombs.
We want you to be the executive champion of this project. I want to be able to blame you for my mistakes.
We need to syndicate this decision. We need to spread the blame if it backfires.
We have to put on our marketing hats. We have to put ethics aside.
It’s not possible. It’s impractical. It won’t work. I don’t know how to do it.
It’s a no-brainer. It’s a perfect decision for me to handle.
I’m glad you asked me that. Public relations has written a carefully phrased answer.
I see you involved your peers in developing your proposal. One person couldn’t possibly come up with something this stupid.
There are larger issues at stake. I’ve made up my mind so don’t bother me with the facts.
I’ll never lie to you. The truth will change frequently.
Our business is going through a paradigm shift. We have no idea what we’ve been doing, but in the future we shall do something completely different.
Value-added. Expensive.
Human Resources. A bulk commodity, like lentils or cinder blocks.
The upcoming reductions will benefit the vast majority of employees. The upcoming reductions will benefit me.

4 comments to The Friday Funny: A glossary of management terms

  • Really I think in a world governmental culture or climate the 10 golden rules for commissioning a waste-of-money evaluation is: A good evaluator is a dead evaluator!
    Which one of the 20 suggestion was better than this?



  • Dugan Fraser

    I loved these. Can I add one:
    “I didn’t understand all of it” means “I haven’t read it and I’m not going to so it’s best if you give me a very short summary”.

  • Carolyn Sullins

    “I trust your judgment on this” = “I don’t give a squat about this, nor do I want any blame if it goes wrong.”

  • You should also check these out:

    Seagull Manager is a term used to describe a management style of interacting with employees only when a problem arises, making hasty decisions about things they have little understanding of, then leaving others to deal with the mess they leave behind. The term became popular through a joke in Ken Blanchard’s 1985 book Leadership and the One Minute Manager: “Seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, then fly out.” (p. 38)

    In computer science, the ostrich algorithm is a strategy of ignoring potential problems on the basis that they may be exceedingly rare – “to stick your head in the sand and pretend that there is no problem”. This assumes that it is more cost-effective to allow the problem to occur than to attempt its prevention.