back to article Brits decline to 'think outside the box'

Free Pro-active Download - Going Forward with Blue-sky Thinking for Web 2.0 It's official: Brits do not, at the end of the day, want to think outside the box, touch base, indulge in blue-sky thinking or, for that matter, get pro-active with some 360° thinking. That's the verdict of a YouGov poll into "buffling" - the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    No mention of...

    ...leveraging paradigms?

  2. Duckorange
    Paris Hilton

    It's always worthwhile... sabotage meetings that turn into Buzzword Bingo hell.

    I once got away with "Let's hammer these ideas into the ground and see if the nice dog pisses on them" with only minor injuries.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    square the circle

    trouble with this list is it doesnt differentiate those where there is an alternative word or phrase. There are plenty of other ways of saying "think outside the box" that aren't tapped from the US. However im hard pushed to think of a one word alternative to pro-active for example.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Thought shower

    At the end of the day with the credit crunch causing a lot of companies to do pro-active downsizing I think we all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet and do some blue sky thinking about this. Going forward it is obvious that pushing the envelope by thinking outside of the box is the only way to keep in the loop and keep all our ducks in a row.

    I think maybe its time for a new El Reg competition for made up management bullshit.

    Mine's the one with the P45 in the pocket

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What? No "leveraging"?

    Paris, 'cos I'd like to touch her base...

  6. Hollerith

    Wot? No leveraging or incentivising?

    No learnings to be taken away? In-the-loop stakeholders know better than to point and shoot, but they do seek to upscale their maximum gains via utilising communication assets, and such a value-added content event, ie this list, would surely give them power tools to rocket-fire their career paths into the hierarchy decision-making tiers.

  7. Richard Williams
    Thumb Down

    You missed...

    that most horrible word, almost always used before a lengthy and complex explanation...


  8. George Jenkins

    Laser shape focus


  9. Scotty

    I question

    ..whether 20% are wrong that using these memes 'has had or would have a positive impact on their career". I know I have used them with dim management types that seem comforted by their familiar sounds.

    I think its a just a mistake to use these without people bright enough to understand better.

  10. Dan
    Thumb Up

    Good article...

    but I fail to see how 'at the end of the day' or 'all of it' qualify - they're just everyday expressions, and are never in the same paradigm (ah, f*** it) as blue-sky thinking and all that other turd.

    Incidentally, this is one article where a comment from amanfrommars would possibly make more sense than the buffling rubbish being spouted in the comments above!

  11. Tom Paine

    a new one

    You know how it is - once you've spotted it once, you see it everywhere. "Out turn". As in..."We'll let the project through this gate, and hope it out turns successful deliverables."

  12. bert Plucker

    missing word

    How come 'Leverage' is missing then . Maybe cos this word has been used to doom the world.

  13. Sid

    It's missing...

    ...there's no 'I' in team (but there is a 'me')

  14. Joey
    Thumb Down

    Makes me sick...

    I've heard so much of this crap and it is about time that people were put down publically for doing it!

    People who, sort of, talk in clichés - y'know. Does my 'ead in. You know what I mean? Is it to impress people with their eloquence? Does exactly the opposite. You know what I mean?

    El Reg writers are not imune. My pet hate is the word 'leveraging' - crops up all the time! You know what I mean?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know someone who does this all the time.

    We have taken to *making up* fake buffles to see if he takes the bait and starts using them.

    It works, of course, because he doesn't want to be "behind the curve" when it comes to buzzword-laden management-speak.

    Current favourite, "We're not trrying to eat the *whole* mammoth, you know". Used at least once a day, currently.

  16. Dominic Kua

    Pushing the envelope

    Does that mean offering a bribe?

    Enquiring minds need to know!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Another teeth-nasher

    One that I'm currently fighting a losing battle to not use (having picked it up from the people I'm working with on my current contract) is ENGAGE - as in "can we get the database team engaged?", "when will Networks be engaged?", and "you need to get the PM engaged"!


  18. Eddie Edwards


    Yes I have been guilty of using these terms at home.

    e.g. "How much of that can you eat?" "All of it."

    or "Can you assemble this straight away?" "No I need to take it out of the box first."

    or "When are you going to bed?" "At the end of the day."

    or "Are you considering the new XBox at all?" "No, I wasn't going to engage in any 360 thinking."

    I mean I could go on ...

  19. Rhyd


    I hear "at the end of the day" in every post-match interview, along with "y'know" at least 5 times in each sentence!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to find about more about yourself

    So I can see what's suitable for yourself.

    No doubt there are others that betray the ignorant trying to sound clever, but this one does it for me.

  21. Jamie Kitson

    All of it?

    One that seems particular to my workplace is "In the first instance." Why can't we just say "initially"? Please. But it's usually used where there will never be a second or third instance anyway.

    Anyway, I love being a sceptical Brit.

  22. Dave

    "All of it"

    Am I missing some hidden meaning, or strange usage of "All of it" ??

    That sounds like perfectly cromulent English to me.

  23. Leon Stringer
    Gates Horns

    Missed my "favourite" IT phrases

    Anything described as "Industry standard": seems to get applied to anything to justify its use.

    Anything described as "Best of breed": aaaaargh! It's so meaningless!

    (Bill - because he epitomises the "it's industry standard" excuse for second-rate IT).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Unholy turdspurt

    I can think of another example of buffling; going forward.

    Hate that phrase.

  25. Simon Whiteley



    that word made me spit my tea all over my keyb.

    what did it do to yous?

  26. jolly

    it gets dark

    Whenever I hear anyone say "at the end of the day" I immediately interject with "it gets dark". I've had to do it multiple times in separate meetings but do it EVERY time I hear that phrase in the hope that people will eventually get the message that it's irritating and lazy.

    My other pet hate is "it's still early doors". EARLY DOORS? What's that all about?

  27. Jonah

    And another...

    "Let's solidify the agenda"

    Unabashedly spouted on a train journey from Bradford to London as two business types thought it would be great to have a meeting in transit, ruining my carefully set aside book time. I considered heckling.

  28. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Calling it buffling is just as bad as doing it.

    In plain English it's called TALKING BOLLOCKS!

    It is normally perpetrated by middle management who no longer have the technical jargon they could fall back on as senior techies, and are missing that ability to bore/baffle people into stupefaction. So they substitute bollocks for English.

    It's as bad as someone who punctuates their sentences with "right" or "yeah".

  29. Alex

    Thought shower?

    sounds more like a tissue full of ideas to me!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Next time it happens...

    just query it. Great game...

    Boss: ..think outside of box....

    you...what box? it up the flagpole...

    you...where is it?


    you..this flagpole?

    or one to really make him look dumb....

    Boss...moving forward we need to be pro-active

    You....Ok, I'll crack on with getting those future problems fixed.

    Boss...great, that's what I like to here.

    may explain my lack of promotions...

  31. Jason Togneri
    Thumb Down


    Personally I don't use any of those terms - at least, I've not noticed it - but I have noticed them in common use more and more often. On a related note, are you sure "buffling" isn't just a typo (intentional or otherwise) of "bluffing"?

  32. Richard Fletcher

    I heard this a lot when I worked at HSBC.

    "Tasked" as opposed to "Asked" or "Told". As far as I am aware, "Task" is a noun, not a verb. Using Task as a verb is doubleungood.

  33. dek

    The Solution

    Thinking outside of the box, and just to touch base with you all, at the end of the day we all have to keep going forward. All of it is really blue sky thinking and blue sky is what you may see if you fall out of the box as the credit crunch hits home. So "Heads up!" let us all get singing from the same hymn sheet, be pro-active, forget downsizing, line all your ducks in a row for some serious brainstorming (quack, quack). After this I thought "shower" and then, as I was turning 360° thinking "get all those suds off", I realised the solution to the credit crunch and should flag it up. But as I was pushing the envelope in the post box I thought "at this moment in time, I am definitely *not* in the loop", so why bother.

    (sigh, I really should get a job, and soon)

  34. Galaxy Bob


    Sad and a bit surprised to see "We are where we are" isn't on the list. Gaaaaaaa!!!!!! I hate that phrase.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Real English please

    Many of these phrases are absolutely fine, and I don't find them annoying at all. However, I do find them very annoying when used incorrectly, which is what a lot of management seem to do.

    I have a nasty habit of correcting or asking questions about meaningless phrases:

    2. Touch base

    Thank you, but I don't want to play for the company rounders or baseball team.

    3. At the end of the day

    It's dark and I'm either asleep or in a pub. Oh, the end of the working day? Ok, I'm going home.

    6. Blue sky thinking

    Yes, nitrogen scatters blue light, what's that got to do with my job?

    7. Out of the box

    You want me to unpack the new shiny toys? Cool, lead me to them. Where's the screwdriver?

    10. Singing from the same hymn sheet

    Is it not rather bad form to bring religious doctrine into a place of work in a mostly secular country?

    13. Ducks in a row

    Repeats of Terry and June can be found on cable TV. Fortunately, watching them is not in my contract.

    14. Brainstorming

    I am not troubled by epilepsy at the moment, and my job doesn't require me to know much about it. Why are you talking about it?

    16. 360° thinking

    Gets you back where you started from. If you're going to just go in circles, can I go home?

    18. Pushing the envelope

    Bring me the head of Willy the mail boy! He knows he's not supposed to fold, spindle or mutilate!

    19. At this moment in time

    Do you mean "Now"?

    20. In the loop

    I don't have one for this, but loop reminds me of rope, which usually means sailors, so I can use the pirate icon. Yarr!

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Step Up to the Plate and Bring Something New To The Table?

    A repulsive line-up, to be sure.

    But whatever happened to the obnoxious "step up to the plate" and "bring something new to the table"? Surely much better than "all of it" (is that even a phrase?) and "thought shower" (very Day Todayish, but I've never actually heard it used).

    (Jacket because I've more than once said "at the end of the day" in a non-ironic manner and been thoroughly disgusted with myself once I realised).

  37. John Wise

    A bit surprised...

    ...that "Take this offline" isn't there (in relation to discussing something outside of a meeting).

    That phrase makes my blood boil! A poncey way of saying they don't want to talk about something.

    Jolly Roger, as most who like to use this kind of lingo are *** pirates!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Touch Base

    Is a overused baseball metaphor, not surprising a UK poll would tend to rank it higher.

    There is also the question 'does it help your career'? I know I have been quilty of many of these, but tend to use them more around dim managers who do genuinely seem to be comforted by their familiar noises.

  39. Lottie

    I have to admit.... using a lot of phrases like this, but only ever in jest.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I told you so

    I was bleating about this months ago.

    Paris, because she never thinks outside of her box.

  41. Ron


    Where's Synergy!? It's quite possibly the worst!

  42. Christopher Rogers


    Death to those who promote the use of such shite.

  43. David Pollard


    Now write a short story, in total less than 200 words, that includes all these phrases.

    In a word, Friday.

  44. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Rejargonize me!!!

    I love clichès - without them my head would roll and my dick would be hung, drawn, quartered and minced. I translate. What I translate is corporate and public administration gobble-de-gook - bullshit about bullshit. The thing is, it's cunning bullshit. There's always a hidden agenda - and the emperor's new clothes might look invisible to outsiders, but that's only cos they're stealthed up to hide the real beef. So what is source is subtext under subtext (who's screwing who, who's gonna be screwing who, and who's thought up the whole scam), and this needs to be transferred into target with the last little nuance in place. And the stealth shielding covering it all? Clichés wrapping everything in sticky cling-film. And interpreting is the same thing but in real-time - ear to tongue with no time-consuming detours through the wetware.

    So, no clichés - no subtext. No layers of cling-film - way too much of the wrong kind of transparency. And no more politics, diplomacy or business deals as we know and love them.

    Translators have a code: if we like someone, we write what they meant to say. If we detest someone, we write what they actually wrote.

    Another very useful aspect of clichification is that it means that you can regurgitate the same crap in five years time, but rejargonizated so it feels new. And that's good for us too, cos it means we have to think less, just so long as we didn't bother about changing the old buzzwords in the first place.

    So no supercilious holier than thou shit from know-all Regarstards, please! This stuff is Warhol performance art, world-class poetry, and what's more, it's a perpetual motion machine going round and round before our very eyes.

    (Paris cos she loves clichés too, and I'd like have her gyrating perpetually over me wearing the fairy-tale emperor's new clothes.)

  45. Clive Galway

    Another day, another Grauniad-like mistake

    The numbering of the points is 1-0 twice. I guess you are missing a one before the first 0 through to the second 9, and a two from the start of the second zero.

  46. Bill

    'Grow your business'

    This gets me into a bit of a froth. In days gone by it used to be 'expand your business'. Where the f... did 'Grow' come from? I always think that it's because the attitude of many managers is that if you talk enough bullsh*t then things will happen

  47. David Evans


    I use some of those. I bet most people on here do as well. At the end of the day.

  48. Robert Hill


    all I am looking for is a little more clarity on these points, with the aim of escalating these opportunities to the business owner for resolution. If he buys in, we can leverage our other intellectual properties and methdologies and turn them into new business assets. Then we can rapidly monetize those assets and thus deliver an uptick in business value...

    Kill me now...

  49. Matthew Ellen


    I've been guilty of using "going forward" once or twice. I always cringe afterwards, then remoind myself it's better to not say something rather than say going forward.

    Another word I hate people using, because it almost never has cause to be used, is methodology. 99.99% of the time the word you should use is method.

  50. Nic Brough
    Paris Hilton

    An oldie


    Makes my skin crawl. Also, "leverage", but others have mentioned it already.

    Paris has better grammar than most of the managers using words like this

  51. William Towle

    Re: It's always worthwhile...

    Duckorange> I once got away with "Let's hammer these ideas into the ground and see if the nice dog pisses on them" with only minor injuries.

    While we don't get a lot of nasty neologisms used here, we did have a company meeting in which one of our new salesguys stated -in one (particularly long) sentence- "the endgame [involves] getting our foot in the door [...] higher up the food chain". Mix metaphors much, mister?

    Great amusement was got out of "revisualising" that one on the tearoom whiteboard later, though to this day I'm not sure how close we got to what was in his head...

  52. shay mclachlan

    Old hippie says

    It's too much hassle to read this & I can't get my head together about this stuff because it is a real bringdown and it freaks me out because there is a lot of bad karma in there man. The way straight people talk is just so uncool.

  53. William Towle

    Re: "Buffling"

    Jason Togneri> On a related note, are you sure "buffling" isn't just a typo (intentional or otherwise) of "bluffing"?'s a portmanteau of "business" and "waffling", apparently (at least according to

    Having come from a University environment where jargon words are rife, I didn't realise I had a tendency to baffle with science until it came up that his was the case at my new job ... only the complaint had been that I was "abstruse", and the appraiser had to ask me what /that/ meant!

    "Buffling" sounds like taking this a step too far (see my previous post for example!)

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Leverage" as a verb really gets on my tits.

    What's wrong with "Lever" anyway? Why invent a new verb when a shorter and older one is perfectly fine?

    I blame the Merkens (for everything)

  55. Anonymous Coward

    @square the circle by AC

    "However im hard pushed to think of a one word alternative to pro-active for example."

    Er, how about "Active", or is my irony filter faulty?


    Come for a swim in my think-tank


    I'll get my coat...

  56. Matt Bull

    chuffing tardfarts

    "let's look at this holistically.." .. erm what?!

    "is it on the critical path?" .. erm what?!

    cock off you fucktards!

  57. Bad Beaver

    Ah well...

    I love buzzspeak. Buzzspeak and other pseudo-smart language phenomena make it very easy to spot *tards of any sort, especially the weak of word of course. The sheer efficiency within the process of someone starting an explanation with "basically" and me mentally downgrading their status level is nothing short of breathtaking. It's beyond ASAP, its INSTANT.

  58. Peter Clarke

    Drop the Dead Donkey

    Wasn't it Gus the station manager who would be constantly spouting these phrases in the show? I thought a lot of these phrases went out with Yuppies in the 90s

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Thought shower?

    I'd rather not!!!

    Though its probably better than 'refactor', which around here means complete f*cking rewrite as we cant be arsed to think about it now so we come up with a scalable system. As in "Dont worry about that important piece of functionality, we can refactor it in later".


  60. James Smith


    Does the old website that measures the management speak on other websites still exist?

  61. Anonymous Coward

    They're just a bunch of euphemisms

    1. Thinking outside of the box - The Withdrawal Method

    2. Touch base - A case of the trots

    3. At the end of the day - Bollocks to it, let's go to the pub

    4. Going forward - Get on with it

    5. All of it - greedy bastard

    6. Blue sky thinking - booking a holiday

    7. Out of the box - Childbirth

    8. Credit crunch - Paid next week

    9. Heads up - office football

    10. Singing from the same hymn sheet - overcrowded office

    11. Pro-active - Not doing what you've been told to, but getting away with it.

    12. Downsizing - changing from pints to shots.

    13. Ducks in a row - Survived giving Steve Balmer some bad news.

    14. Brainstorming - Excess of caffine and nicotine

    15. Thought shower - Was running late so just used a deodorant this morning.

    16. 360° thinking - copying what everyone around you is doing.

    17. Flag it up - Using a condom

    18. Pushing the envelope - Most envelopes are manilla... figure it out.

    19. At this moment in time - daydreaming

    20. In the loop - see 'Pushing the Envelope'

  62. Anonymous Bastard

    A new one

    I've just heard "flip" reinvented. Surprisingly using a verb as a verb instead of a noun as a verb.

    "Give me your ideas and I'll 'flip' them onto this chart" (Whilst indicating a nearby flipchart)

    What could this mean for the future of our beloved word "write"?

  63. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    How about the really offensive:

    With all due respect

  64. Steve

    Touch base?

    We off course no self-respecting Englishman would want to touch base, he'd be far too busy getting back to the crease. Beyond the pale, really, mutter,mutter, mutt....

  65. ben
    Thumb Up

    reg-reader involvement proactive suggestion

    the reg should get it's readers to email in emails containing such management bullspeak. take out allreferences to the identity etc. basically, i have some cracking ones i keep for posterity, and woudl love to share.... what do other folks think?

  66. Andrew Halliwell
    Thumb Down

    Re:It's a win-win situation (for them)


    They missed out on one of the older ones that's always got on my nerves.

    "we must leverage this computer system..."

    Leverage as a verb... Why not just say "push" or "use" or any number of proper words.

    Lever = noun and verb.

    Leverage is a noun only. Always has been, and in spite of all the marketting morons out there, I refuse to acknowledge it as anything else.

    Correct usage. "I've tried shoving this crowbar under it, but my feet keep slipping and I can't get any leverage"


  67. Anonymous Coward

    From an old report...

    "using shaped concrete proposals as fulcrums of customer engagement"

  68. Gareth

    What is the Holy Grail of business-speak?

    Note the capitalisation please, pedants.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The phrase you are looking for should read:

    Boss: "there's no 'I' in team".

    Me: "No, but you can get me out of it"

    The best line of shite I ever saw though was at a large computer company where one of the managers sent out an email chasing up the lack of responses to personal development schedules with the phrase: "[some people] have not yet bridged the gap to completion"

  70. Merton Campbell Crockett

    Thinking Outside the Box?

    I do all my thinking outside the box!

    When I'm inside the box, I can guarantee that there is not much thinking going on. The medulla oblongata and hypothalamus are in charge. The cerebellum is inactive.

  71. Pierre

    Touch base...

    Touching base is only interesting starting from the third. Strangely enough, I get blank stares each time I state that in a corridor meeting. The expression tends to not be used in my presence anymore...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Peter Clarke - Drop the Dead Donkey

    Yes Gus was the station manager of Globelink news.

    Bye the way, "there is something I'd like to pop into your percolator to see if it comes out brown".

    Anyway, that was old magagement gobbledegook, bring on the new gobbledegook!

  73. Ann Bordenave

    Going Forward

    I really, really hate this phrase, but hear it roughly twice a day working in Marketing. It drives me mental - we don't talk about "going backward" when referring to things that happened in the past, do we?

    I have to confess to over using "at the end of the day though"

  74. W



    The system of relationships between animals and plants and their environment.

    -Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd Edition 2006.

    >ecosystem [ec·o·sys·tem] (ěk'ō-sĭs'təm, ē'kō-)


    An ecological community together with its environment, functioning as a unit.

    -The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary

    >ecosystem [eco·sys·tem]

    Pronunciation: -"sis-t&m

    Function: noun

    The complex of a community and its environment functioning as anecological unit in nature

    -Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary

    ...nope, nothing about computer environments or L'Oreal shampoo. So will you all please stop it. You know who you are.

  75. Jonathan McColl
    IT Angle

    Having said that...

    What we're all objecting to is clever allusive use of our constantly evolving language. These phrases began with someone trying to jar the complacency of colleagues, but afterwards less-imaginative people used the first guy's phrases until they became clichés.

    So that's the deep understanding over. 'Leveraging' is probably the one I hate most, but 'Having said that' comes a really close second. Anyone care to open the kimono?

  76. Stern Fenster

    Always thought it was Manglish

    Managerial English, that is ........ the sharp end of the cutting edge.

    And how about we reclaim the useful word "parameter", currently conflated with "perimeter"?

    Bring back flogging, I say......

  77. jake Silver badge

    Cringe-worthy language

    At the end of the production line where I once worked was a burn-in station where a QA tech would wire up the equipment and pass maximum data across the T1 and T3 nodes, looping back at the far end, and then checked at the originating BERT (Bit Error Rate Tester). 48 hours of no bit-errors was a pass. A upper-middle manager was "touring the manufacturing facility" one afternoon and asked the tech "is this where the Quality is installed?". The tech, knowing the manager was pretty much clueless, answerd with a simple "yes" to avoid an explanation.

    For years afterward, we all cringed when this manager gave tours of our production floor to visiting big-wigs ... He always concluded his tour with a stop at the burn-in area, and with a big flourish would proclaim "this is where the Quality is installed!" ... You could hear the capital Q in the word. A senior IBM field service rep once took me aside and asked if the guy was for real.


    At the same company, we in the OEM QA test department knew we could clear a meeting by asking if there was "any progress in the new algorithm for dynamic bandwidth allocation over adaptive differential pulse code modulation" ...

  78. Allan Dyer


    "..there's no 'I' in team (but there is a 'me')"

    There's an 'i' in win

    Isn't "Thinking outside the box" a code-phrase for sneaking box-cutters onto aircraft... quick call the anti-terror police! Though, to be honest, from previous experience, if someone asks me to think outside the box, they actually mean, "I've already got a pre-conceived idea of what I want you to do, but it is not to your benefit, so I'm trying to make your refusal look like a closed mind, not open to new ideas".

    Sorry, wrong icon, this isn't funny. Just call me Marvin.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talking shit for England

    The rarified world of "serious" art photography has its own line in incomprehensible bollocks that would put mere business waffle to shame. These days, I never actually read the pre-show blurb in anticipation of learning anything meaningful beyond the "artist using photography"s name, but to add to my knowledge of Meaningless-But-Impressive-Sounding-Ways-To-Say-Nothing. There's the old standards like "interpreting the space" to the more imaginative "juxtaposing found objects to create new objective realities". which might well be "inviting the viewer to re-evaluate their perceptions of ....". The number of these used is usually in inverse proportion to the quality of the work.

    But by far my favourite, remembered from a show 15 years ago, when "artists abusing photography" was in its relative infancy, was a line from a show about - appropriately enough - rubbish: "breaking the boundaries of outmoded compositional values". Blue sky thinking pales by comparison.

  80. Darryl

    My all-time most hated the misuse of the word 'myself'... "Please reply to Bill or myself." I guess it sounds more intelligent that 'me' to people who don't know that it's just plain bad grammar. Don't know how common it is over there, but here in Canada and in the US, it's all over the damn place. My old boss used it all the time. I would deliberately reply to his e-mails asking us to inform 'himself' whether we were attending the meetings with "Myself will be in attendance. See yourself there."

  81. tebiru

    Just to inject some balance into this...

    It's not the phrases themselves that are the problem, it's how you use them. A lot of them are quite convenient and make sense when used appropriately and in the right context. Where people should object is when they're used purely for vanity. But it's wrong to say that the concepts themselves are meaningless.

  82. Sooty

    @"..there's no 'I' in team"

    the only response to this that should ever be given, is "No, but there is a u in c*nt"

    if your boss is going to imply that you are not a teamplayer without saying it outright...

  83. Thomas Baker

    Virgin interview.

    I once, *accidentally*, went for a job interview with Virgin for a super-techie type-role, and was interviewed by two marketing people. After about 30 minutes I quietly got up and left the room. I had no idea what they were talking about...and of course, neither did they. When you look through a lot of job ads though in the various places you find them, many are written in marketing speak by marketing people, i.e. not by techies who know what skills and experience they're looking for. For me, it's a key give-away that you *don't* want to work for that company as Day One will be a 'Welcome to Paperwork' exercise followed by some kind of 'Orientation' on Day Two, followed by 'Proper Change Control Procedural Nomenclature" on Day Three thru Seventeen, etc. And of course, there will be mooocho PowerPoint. I'm sure you've all been there.

    In the immortal words of Jesus: "I'm all like, do you want someone to configure/program/maintain/support your network/website...or not?!"

    People called Marketing they go the house.

  84. Kenny Swan


    No Guestimate?

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    touch base

    god my boss uses that at least 100 times a day :(

  86. Anonymous Coward

    Singing from a different hymn sheet

    Really, this is just jargon. Management jargon, admittedly, but each of these phrases does have a pretty well-defined meaning even if you dislike it or find it annoying. Quite possibly some of them carry some exquisite subtlety for masters of the managerial arts.

    It seems quite reasonable to me for managers to have their own jargon. To techies they sound lame, hackneyed and annoying. But how do technical terms sound to managers? From the attempts to use them I've heard, the managers aren't exactly comfortable or adept with those either. So I have to assume that managers view phrases like "route it to /dev/null", "grep the strings out" or "BSOD" with similar abhorrence. Each of these could equally well be stated in plain English, but typically isn't. Similarly, phrases like "it's fallen over", "re-boot" or "hammering the machine" are not to be taken literally. They are metaphors used as jargon.

    So what's the difference?

    The problem here, as I see it, arises when people use jargon outside their own field to try to impress. Keep it between consenting adults in the same field and there's no problem.

    So if managers are guilty of something, it's exposing other people to their own jargon and expecting them to understand and be impressed. I think we all know it has exactly the opposite effect. But what's surprising is that managers don't seem to know this, despite it having been documented for donkey's years in the Dilbert strip.

  87. JCL

    Here are a few

    picking the low hanging fruit first - ouch

    joined-up thinking

    golden thread

    minded - which politician started that one?




    outplace - and other redundant redundancy alternatives including synergy targets -

  88. Mr C

    The pits

    Anyone using the phrase "at the coal-face", who is not directly involved with the deep-mining industry, gets my vote for being chucked down a mine-shaft.

  89. Charles Manning

    Baby talk for bosses

    It isn't that the employees are trying to impress the bosses, they're trying to rephrase things in ways that the bosses can relate to.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    At this moment in time?

    Why "at this moment in time"? Sounds fine to me for saying "currently", "at this time" or "at the moment" and with only a few more words.

    "suck it up" or "swallow it down"

    "we are all in the same boat"

    "hitting the nail on the head"

    "to kick ass"

  91. martinp

    Lowest common denominator

    That's my biggest hate. What makes it doubly annoying is that the speaker actually means "highest common factor", but try suggesting that correction and wait for the blank faces.

  92. Stephen

    touch base?

    i heard the phrase "touch base at the end of the day" almost everyday at my last job. i suppose my boss could of chosen some long winded "proper" way to say it, but the idea was communicated and that is all that really matters in communication.

    i for one am grateful that people don't quote jabberwocky more often, now there is some nonsense.

  93. Nat C.

    @ Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 28th November 2008 12:42 GMT

    Sounds like your PHBs have been watching far too much Star Trek:The Next Generation. Maybe counteract it by responding to all their ideas with "I've got a bad feeling about this." If they are indeed hardcore Trekkies, that'll get their blood boiling.

    Mine's the one with the iPod in the pocket playing the Captain Picard song on repeat.

    "Captain...Jean-Luc Picard, of the USS...Enterprise"

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Going forward

    We should exploit synergies.....

  95. Steve Roper

    Some of the ones that make me cringe

    "ballpark figure": A random number plucked out of the air as a pre-quote.

    "greenfield situation": We don't know what the fuck we're doing, here's hoping you do because if it fucks up it's your fault.

    "I want it done yesterday!": Sure. Can I borrow your time machine? (One of my past boss's favourite demands was "I want it done yesterday, if not last week!")

    "down the track": Or up the tree?

    "monetize our visitors": You mean squeeze everyone we can for every last penny.

    "precipitation activity": Yes, I have actually heard a weather forecaster use this term to describe the phenomenon most of us know as "rain".

    "best practice": I'd call that the wrong way to say the right way.

    "quality assurance": Initial this sticker. If the customer returns it we know whose head to roll.

    "human resources": What we used to call Personnel.

    "dismissed": I'd prefer sacked or fired, please. It tells it like it is.

    "made redundant": I'd prefer sacked or fired, please. It tells it like it is.

    "upsell": Most people call this "bait and switch".

  96. Neil Daniels

    @Matthew Ellen

    Ah yes, methodology. I believe the only correct place for that term is as a heading for the section of your work where you describe and discuss the methods available to you for whatever it is you are doing. The method is what you actually do.

    Main article:

    "Brainstorming"? That's hardly new.

    "At the end of the day"? I find it useful for "what will/should happen regardless of the method you employ" or "what it turns out like regardless of how you think it should happen".

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All time worst

    "mother fucker"

  98. John Lodge


    "Issues" really piss me off. It's used all the time by the Beeb - "If you have been affected by any issues in this program...." WTF is that all about? Surely there must be much more elegant ways of getting the point across.

    Has "Roadmap" died a premature death - I sincerely hope so.

    I must admit the list reads like a precie of a Gordon Brown speech to the party faithfull

  99. Amanda

    @ Kenny Swan

    "No Guestimate?"


    (wishes she could grab her coat and run out of the room every time her boss says that word)

    #1 Pet Peeve: "Professional" used as an approving description of someone who looks and talks the part, but cannot actually DO the part. When did "professional" start meaning well-dressed glad-hander instead of seasoned expert with perhaps questionable fashion and social judgment?

  100. Wayland Sothcott

    Leverage the rubicon paradime

    I know these phrases do leveage blue sky out of box thinking. I had a business partner who used to talk in nothing but buffle, he still does and I was taken in by it.

  101. foo_bar_baz

    @stephen roberts

    active is the antonym of passive, proactive that of reactive.

  102. spiny norman
    Thumb Down


    There's such a constant stream of this stuff coming out of the US it's impossible for mere mortals to keep up with. Seems they just can't bear to keep using words that have served the rest of us for centuries. Some additions I now suffer on a daily basis: "interlock" = "agree", "share" = "give", "reach out" = "ask".

  103. Zmodem


    if no thought outside the box. nothing would get done. and nothing new would be achieved

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    There is no I in team

    But there is in winner.

  105. Mudslinger

    Did anyone mention

    Ahead of time? - used to be early.

  106. Steven H Taylor

    'Downsizing' is so nineties

    In the naughties this euphemism was replaced by the no less horrifying 'rightsizing', which in turn looks to be replaced by 'redesigning'.

    I was also surprised not to find 'ballpark figure', 'low-hanging fruit' and 'being on the same page' in the top 20.

  107. Pum

    There's no "I" in Team ...

    ... but there's 4 in platitude quoting idiot.

  108. Turbo Beholder

    Buzzwordz cause brain to buzz. And spark.

    - You're thinking 'Did he fire six shots or only five?' And to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement, but being this is a .44 Magnum - the most powerful handgun in the world - and it will blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself a question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk!?

    - <click> Please don't lose attention. It's .38 special, and it's enough because i don't compensate for anything. Do ya want to start *thinking outside of the box* ?


    - Does it work or not ?

    - Here's an easy test: *touch base*


    - *Heads up* !

    - Too high for grapnel ! Release valve rope is torn ! And we're still in updraft !

    - Time for some *blue sky thinking*...


    - You really need some cold *thought shower*.


    - *360° thinking* is not good when you have to deal with modern anti-ship missiles. You really need full hemisphere protection.


    # *In the loop* (self-explanatory)

  109. Anonymous Coward

    What's wrong with OOTB?

    While I agree that anyone using the word "synergistic", which strangely is not on this list, should be given a slow and painful death, I fail to see what's wrong with "out of the box".

    You're in IT. You planning to buy some pricey kit. You want to know if it will do what you want without needing any customizations, so you don't have to spend a bundle on consultants. "Will it do _______ out of the box?" is a perfectly acceptable (and, if I may add, succinct) way of asking this question.

    Anybody who agrees that OOTB deserves to be on this list has just not spent enough time in IT to be wasting time in the comments section at this particular rag. :-)

  110. Anonymous Coward

    "All of it"

    i'm going to suggest that "all of it" isn't a phrase in itself but rather an "all of the above" answer to the question which phrase pisses you off the most...?

    also loved the "They're just a bunch of euphemisms" post

  111. Gary

    The word that is used to often...

    these days in all walks of like is 'Random'.

    It was quite clever when it first started being used but now people use it all the time whenever something slightly strange or odd happens.

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    tried my best

    At this moment in time, those in the loop are pushing the envelope but at

    the end of the day it's probably time to touch base and admit we missed

    the heads up about the credit crunch.

    We can't all be pro-active about downsizing but it did need flagging up.

    Maybe if we were all singing from the same hymn sheet, we could have

    brainstormed a thought shower of 360 thinking and chucked blue sky thinking

    out of the box.

    Think Ducks-in-a-row; think ALL of it.

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