Corporate jargon translator

Yeah, that’s right. Why start to be clear now? When you’re in a job, son, you have to know how to speak the speak, or just know what the fuck the speak means. You might be in a meeting, getting coffee, or taking a piss when you’ll hear some poor schlep on a cell phone having a conference call in the stall next to you. And you have a choice to make, either fart out loud and make obvious bathroom noises to teach the ass a lesson, or listen to his conversation and laugh. Either way works. (Give it a try)

Anyway, the corporate world has adopted a new language which is generously peppered into most meetings and now corporate casual conversations in the halls and lunchrooms. Let’s cover a few of them I head all the time and decipher them for our combined amusement.

Run interference

Not sure what the fuck this means, but it makes me feel like I’m playing a sport and some 280 pound sweaty guy with .5% body fat is about to run into and castrate me in the process. You might find someone saying this if they want to be “kept in the loop” (see below) or if they feel so self important that they have to be involved in every single decision that is being made. Middle to upper class management pricks use this to interfere with everyone’s shit. Maybe that’s why its called interference. As you can tell, when this happens, nothing really gets done. If there is “progress” on something, the person running interference fucks it up. That’s the definition of interference. If there is a problem, someone steps in and…fucks it up.  See the pattern?

Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes

Translation: I’ve tried to bring up this issue before but no one listens, so I’m bringing up again and I will continue to bring it up  over and over until someone acknowledges my pitiful existence and gives me a corporate cookie. People who want to sound “engaged” or more important than they actually are tend to use this. These are the same fuckers who are peons like you, but send out the emails to everyone that talk about great new ideas for the future, or new things that everyone could try. They try to “engage” people to act. While it may sound worthwhile, these people are usually just douchebags covering up their inadequacy and shitty performance with a smokescreen of douchebaggery. They are also known as attention hogs, attention whores, attention sluts, and just…douchebags who aren’t good at their jobs….but man can they talk the talk.

Let’s take this offline

Translation: I really like this idea or where its going, but it is off topic. Let’s talk about it again.

The real translation: Fuck off, this idea or thing we’re talking about is stupid, I don’t want to talk about it or hear about it ever again. If you ever mention it again I’ll replace your esophagus with your rectum.

The only people who are ever allowed to say this are server administrators who want to take a site or computer server offline for maintenance. Middle class managers or higher, or employees who don’t deal with these sites or servers should never say this. Ever.

Let’s interface

What ever happened to “Let’s do lunch?” Lunch became too expensive, dinner is right out, and “Let’s do breakfast” sounds like an invitation to an evening of uncomfortable corporate love making following by bad eggs and burnt toast in the morning. This is just fancy speak for “Let’s talk”. Wow – what’s wrong with that term? Nothing. Then why don’t we use it more? Because it is clear. Ah. That’s right.

Burn the midnight oil

Stay up late and finish your job! Or I will kill you! All of you! Especially you in the cubes!

Let’s not call it overtime or double time, because we’re not going to pay you any more than you normally make (salaries rock!). And and employer doesn’t want you to say you stayed late. That’s too clear and concise. So let’s say that you burned the midnight oil. In reality, midnight oil is a euphanism for “your life” or “your spare time”. So, really, its saying “burn your free time by working.”

In the loop

See the interference comment above. Again, this means I think I’m more important than I actually am, so I want to you treat me like I’m the god of this issue and consult with me on everything. If you want to take a piss, let me know so I can track it.

On my radar

Did you know that most manager secretly want to work in Air Traffic Control? Or possibly in the Navy…where they can join their fellow man. That’s the only explanation I can come up with to explain this nonsense. The closest translation is something like “do you have time to do this in the future?” If you’re wondering why people say the nonsense of “on my radar” in place of something that makes more sense, I’m wondering why you’re still reading this?

Low hanging fruit

Are you a farmer? No? Then stop picking fruit! The rough translation:

Let’s address or fix the things that are easiest.

But that doesn’t sound good. Kind of sounds like a lazy way out, doesn’t it? I mean, why take on the important stuff when the easy shit is right there in front of your face! Let’s not do it right, let’s do it this way instead. It’s better because we look like heroes for doing something “above” and beyond what you’ve asked for…even though we didn’t really do what you asked.

Can’t we just…or…Can’t you just…

The answer is no. It should always be no. Actually, fuck no is more appropriate.

Someone is trying to make you do something that shouldn’t be done. If I asked you to rob a bank (I’m not) and you said no, and then I said “Can’t you just walk in and take their money this afternoon”, would you say yes?

I hope not.

Monkeys, worker drones, cube farmers, etc.

Normal workers. They come in, try to focus on their job, and go home to a mediocre house with an overpriced mortgage or rent.


The notion that by removing a person or group of people from a setting and placing them in another place, together, and expecting revelation equivalent to the second coming is laughable at best. It is a waste of money too, because most of the time the location “off site” is rented at a relatively high cost. But it usually is catered in some way. So free food is a bonus. Then there’s something to throw at the douche across from you who can’t put down his blackberry for 30 seconds.

Whatever comes out of an off site is usually touted as a success, but 99 times out of 100, the plan fails or isn’t implemented, making the offsite a complete waste. Besides, offistes violate an unwritten corporate law: any meeting with more than 5 participants is bound to fail. The more people are added in a meeting, the less gets accomplished, and the collective IQ of the groups goes down by at least 10 points.

On my plate

Transation: This is what I’m doing, or will be doing.

Contrary to belief, your manager or fellow officemates don’t want to know what you’re eating. They want to know how much “bandwidth” you have to accept their “can’t you just” request. If your plate is “full” it means you can’t do it. But you’ll be expected to do it anyway. If its not full, expect them to pile more gruel and creamed corn (aka piece of shit project request) and expect you to do it.

Unless you’re at a buffet, you should not be talking about what is or isn’t on your plate.  That’s just rude.


Kind of similar to the one above. Someone is asking about what you’re doing all day, because they want to give you more work. You probably shouldn’t tell them that you’re watching youtube porn…that’s not good for your job or your corporate internet bandwidth.  Anyway, the rough translation is really “workload”…someone wants to know what your workload is, except bandwidth is more future oriented. Whoever is asking might say something like “What’s your bandwidth look like next week?”, you know, as if you were Rasputin or something. What they are asking is “What are you working on next week?”

If they’re not your boss, you can either tell them to a) fuck off, or b) make up something that sounds halfway decent and confusing. If they are your boss, go with answer b.

All on the same team

Using this logic, everyone is on the same team. “We’re all on the same team” roughly means we all (meaning employees) are working towards the same goal.

Wait, that doesn’t make any fuckin sense! How can we all be on the same team? If we are, why call it a team? Everyone in the NFL wants to win the Super Bowl…that’s a common goal. So why do “teams” do battle if they are after the same thing? Every country in the world wants to be the best. Yet we go to war over it and kill. If we’re “all on the same team” because we all want the same goal…why bother?

And if everyone in an office is on the same team, why have teams in the office? Why have divisions? They “divide” people, that’s whay they’re called divisions. Or departments. Think about the word “departments”. Think of Department store. Everything is separated into departments or areas. Work is the same. Then, we’re not all working on the same team. We’re on our own teams. Make sure you bring this up the next wise ass that mentions this to you. Think put Visine in his coffee.

Action items

What? Well, you go to a meeting (especially used there) and some brilliant wise ass assigns something for you to do, they may call it an action item. Its fancy speak for homework, which may or may not be done at home. Call it “cube work” or “desk work.” It has a due date, like an assignment, it is usually vague, and you’re expected to do research or something on it. Awesome! What it really is…its more work that you didn’t expect to come your way. Better “clear your plate” and have enough “bandwidth” because “we’re all on the same team”.

The pipeline

When corporate big shots, or wanna be big shots make predictions, especially financial or sales predictions, they talk a lot about the pipeline. This is slang for what they expect to happen. In a sales pipeline, this is the number of times or things they expect to sell. Often times, they won’t refer to actual numbers. They will put some vague, up for interpretation phrase like “strong” or “weak” when describing a pipeline…you know, like the chances Sarah Palin has for ever actually getting a clue. (Notice I used Palin, the governor of Alaska, when talking about a pipeline…eh? See, I actually planned out that pun.)

Pipelines are bullshit. They in inaccurate and given the vague terminolgy used with them, they suck. They suck hard. Or should I say, “strong.”

Killing an issue

Translation: I’ve fixed the problem.

This is usually uttered when someone wants to talk on and on about what they did. Ignore them and think about lunch.

Beating a dead horse

Usually muttered with “I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but…”

Which really means  “I want to talk about this even though everyone is so thoroughly sick of hearing about it that they want to bludgeon me with a dry erase marker sword because I like hearing myself talk and I think I’m so important that I just don’t shut up.” People who say this shit are usually proud of something they did and want recognition, so they keep babbling on and on.

Just tell them to frig off, put on your headphones and listen to the Ramones telling you to “Beat on the brat with a baseball bat”

Drinking the kool aid we made

There’s nothing like drinking the drink you made. Unless the drink tastes like shit. Which is what some kool aid tastes like. Yuck.

Translation: We got ourselves into this , now we have to live it…or…we built something or tell our customers something but don’t do it, and we probably should.

Either way you look it, the phrase sucks.

Eating our own dog food

Exactly like the kool aid comment above, except more vivid and less pleasant. Whereas kool aid at least has a shot at being palatable, eating your own doog food implies a punishment of eating Dad’s dog food.  Beware when some asshole wants to do this. It won’t be pleasant.

Not surprisingly I heard Microsoft uses this one.  Hmmm…

Best practice

This is whitewash for “I think you should do something my way.” If I tell you that the best practice for pissing was on your neighbors door, would you do it? If I told you the best way to get rid of the viruses and spyware on your computer right now was to reinstall Windows or install Linux, would you? Consultants get paid thousands of dollars for injecting their opinions and calling it best practice.  They might say its what hundreds of others are doing and it works well. That doesn’t make it smart. In fact, it may be incredibly stupid.

In the same boat

Same thing as “on the same team”. The only difference is, if everyone is on the same team and the team loses, you can still go home, have sex with your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other. If everyone is on the same boat and the boat sinks, everyone drowns. No sex for anyone. Except maybe the fish.

Ping someone

Someone is going to bother someone else. Its a nice way of saying “I want to talk you about something”. Problem is, its almost always a bother. Don’t “ping” anybody. Talk to them. I fucking hate pings.


Uh oh, some ass is rambling about something that is borderline coherent and completely off topic. How did we get here? Well, we were talking about sex with fishes or something then after I realized we were all in the same boat, I decided to run it up the flagpole to see who salutes.  So best practice at this point would be to interface with each other in an offsite and eat our own dogfood while killing the issues on our plates. Then, we’ll develop action plans to help keep the pipeline strong. We may all have to burn the midnight oil, but if I run interference and we keep everyone in the loop, we can go after the low hanging fruit and avoid beating a dead horse.

That is, after all, what we do.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google

Tags: , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 at 11:24 am and is filed under Work. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Corporate jargon translator”

  1. Peter Says:

    Love it…I created my own list for corporate jargon that must die in 2010.

  2. Dixie Abraham Says:

    If only I had a dime for each time I came to Superb read.

Leave a Reply