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Mark Atwood
Business Phrases I Hate. Use these, and I will consider you to be an empty suit.
going forward
This is utterly meaningless. It originally was an attempt to create a feeling of forward momentum. It roughly means "From now on". Whereever the phrase is used, it can be struck without changing the meaning of the surrounding text.
(sense 1) "Driving traffic to the site". (sense 2) "Driving the project to the next milestone".
Number of people below you in an org chart. "He has 7 direct reports."
value proposition
"The value proposition of this product/feature/process/widget..."
19 comments or Leave a comment
elgatocurioso From: elgatocurioso Date: April 6th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
You and I both known that Information Technology is rife enough with specialized terms, buzzwords, acronyms, and assorted shibboleth to caution us not to throw the first stone on this subject!

"value proposition" is key in business. Yes, there are other ways to say it, but "value proposition" is a professional term that has as much significance to its users as other terms to do other types of professionals. Unless you're in a lifestyle business the value proposition is as important a concept as "client-server relationship" would be to an I.T. professional.

"Drive" and "reports" are just random words. I don't get a bad or good feeling from them. You must be exposed to someone who is prone to overuse them? I had one classmate who overused the term "per se" until I wanted to hear the term again!

"Going Forward" also encompasses the notion that there are/were sunk costs. Something happened that was a negative and while we can't recoup the loss we're darn well going to try to make sure it doesn't happen again. This is key business think. You can only make the best business decision you can at the present time. You shouldn't try to go backward and fix something if the net gain from fixing it would be less than the net gain in just living with it and moving forward (in money, or time, or peoples emotions). "Going forward" we would try to avoid making the same mistake again, though.

The fact that I expounded on this subject probably pre-qualifies me for being an empty suit in your mind, but if I have to be one I'm going to try to be the best one that I can be ;).

awfief From: awfief Date: April 6th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I say "directs" sometimes, but mostly I say "my guys" which just sounds wrong. How should you say that? "Employees"? "People working for me?" Then it sounds like I own the company (which people already assume is the case -- that or I work for MySQL).

I try to say "I manage 2 people" when I can, but grammar doesn't always work out like that....
kespernorth From: kespernorth Date: April 7th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I shall refer to them as minions.
elgatocurioso From: elgatocurioso Date: April 7th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
We had one guy at my company who always called them "My team". With the stress on "My". He only lasted a year, and wasn't missed.
awfief From: awfief Date: April 7th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
*nod* I agree, that's why I said it sounds wrong, and why I don't say "minions" or "peons". There are times when I need to say "I'm the team lead and I manage them" in a concise way, and grammar doesn't always allow for "I manage 2 people". Often it's in the form of "I have 2 ...." and again, "employees" sounds odd, etc.

If "my team" doesn't work, what do you propose I call the group of people whom I'm in charge of? (we are called "team 13", so "team" is the right word) Also, was that guy in charge of the team?

I understand that I don't own the team, but how can I convey "I lead the team" concisely? I haven't found "my team" to be too offensive, but maybe that's because "team" was emphasized as opposed to "my", as in, "this team" to disambiguate...."the team I work on" or "the team I lead" is better, but much longer.
elgatocurioso From: elgatocurioso Date: April 7th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
"My team" in casual conversation is fine if you don't include the emphasis that makes it sound like it is an individual-less extension of yourself. "Your team" will know if you see them as valued coworkers or a single blunt tool.

Saying "Our Team" in a company-wide meeting to refer to your group inclusively, even though you are the leader, will make everyone feel good too that you aren't setting yourself too far above them.

This somewhat of reminds me of a saying that seems someone applicable:

"Tell the pretty girls they are smart, and tell the smart girls they are beautiful."

The same thing works with the teams you manage- make them feel better about the things that they are insecure about even if you're stretching the truth a bit :).
elgatocurioso From: elgatocurioso Date: April 7th, 2008 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry about the bad grammar and vocabulary- I've been up too long!
awfief From: awfief Date: April 7th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, it's more like with clients -- saying "our team" sounds like doublespeak to them, whereas saying "my team" makes them understand that I'm the person to escalate to.

When I'm talking in front of colleagues I'll say "team 13" or use the actual names of my teammates -- similar to saying "Tony" instead of "my husband".

The question remains, if you tell the pretty girls they're smart, and the smart girls they're pretty.....what the hell do you tell me?
From: neocuriosity Date: April 6th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! You are so right.

The first time The Dude used the term 'value proposition' I called him on it, told him he was exhibiting his corporate side.

rhonan From: rhonan Date: April 7th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I prefer the term reports, to head-count. It is ever so slightly less inhumane than the later.
awfief From: awfief Date: April 7th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
and along that note, "resources" :)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: April 7th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I despise that one as well.

Seth Godin recently proposed renaming it "Talent", as in "The Department of Talent" and the "Director of Talent" and "we need to hire some more talent".

I like it.
awfief From: awfief Date: April 7th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, that just makes it sound like your customers are "guests"....why not just "people"? Besides, saying "we need to hire some more talent" might imply that what you have isn't good enough.....

besides, then you're implying that every person on that team has talent, which isn't always the case. (Thankfully on the team I'm on, it is the case)
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: April 7th, 2008 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe I worked with the adult industry too long, but 'talent' has connotations to my ear. :-)
dossy From: dossy Date: April 7th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're absolutely correct in making that connection. I mean, what do you think I'm saying when I write:

"The engineering group is seriously lacking in talent."

"Talent" is a much more politically correct phrase than "eye candy" - the former won't get you into any lawsuits. :-)
lishablog From: lishablog Date: April 7th, 2008 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Back when I was running my own consulting business, my boyfriend recommended that any HR type person live with the title "HR Weasel". We figured that if they could wear that title with a smile, maybe they wouldn't be such jerks. We put it to the rest of the team (employees and consultants of the company) and they all thought it was a grand idea. We never got so big that we needed an HR Weasel before I sold the company off, though. :)
lishablog From: lishablog Date: April 7th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm... don't be so quick to judge, even if you don't like the phrases. They are business lingo, and business lingo does shift according to fashions, no question, but each of these terms has a place in current biz-speak, and I for one won't hesitate to use them if the situation merits it.
dossy From: dossy Date: April 7th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
While it's easy to pick on the shared vocabulary used in business, what about the shared vocabulary that programmers use? You know: Design Patterns.

"Following the Beehive metaphor, our WorkerBees build up the Hive implemented by a Facade pattern, operating on our set of Singletons. The Drones use a combination of the Command and Visitor patterns to search out new Flowers."

A shared vocabulary is a technique that can be used to compress language: say more with fewer words.

We, as engineers, need to teach business people how to actually use a shared vocabulary. Adding filler words like "going foward"--while I find it fun to say--isn't driving any value to the bottom line. We need to create a dashboard that tracks key actionable metrics to ensure ongoing success in business communications. *ha ha, ha ha*
papertygre From: papertygre Date: April 13th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

They called my transition from Dev to PM "coming over to the dark side"

Don't work at Microsoft then. Certainly don't try to interact with program managers from Microsoft.

Also, you forgot a few. "Circle back," "outside the box," "buy-in," "risk profile," "big bet," "user experience," "key performance indicator," "next steps," "engage with," "leverage [something, e.g. a partnership]," "execute on/against [an objective]," "deliver value," "own [something, e.g. a feature area]," "align resources [or priorities, etc.]," "win [in such and such a space]," "innovate and lead [in such and such an area]" ...
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