Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dictionary of the Absurd

I am always annoyed by the jargony phrases that people--especially non-technical mangerial types--like to throw around. They think that they sound cool, informed, hip. Most of the time I end up scratching my head and wondering what, exactly, they really meant. Or if they, themselves, even know.

Overarching It is used like "all-encompassing" or "all-inclusive". The book had overarching themes of hope and despair. It always makes me picture the Arch, or else a bridge crossing a stream--something that hops from one point to another without touching the ground in between. Somehow, I don't think that's what people have in mind.

Knowledge Transfer It means to teach or to inform. The phrase always conjures images of people hooking up a network wire between their heads and clicking "download". If only we could.

Disconnect This is what happens when you're done with your knowledge transfer, I suppose. It shoudln't describe a case where you never connected--that would be a misconnect? For a disconnect, you have to hook up first. I could describe the mental picture here, but I'll just say that that sort of behavior is not generally condoned in the workplace.

Leverage To utilize or take advantage of. "We want to leverage our expertise in order to win this contract." Recently I heard a high-level executive refer to myself and my colleagues as "intellectual capital" that the company was trying to "leverage". Makes me feel like a rock that they're loading into a trebuchet.

Pushing the Envelope Pushing it where? Is this like a dog nosing a piece of paper along the ground? Why would I want to push it when I can put a stamp on it and mail it?

Thinking Outside the Box Is the outside of the box really more interesting than the inside? Or is the "box" a reference to the cubicle I sit in every day? Does that mean I'm supposed to be thinking about work when I leave? Fat chance there.

Paradigm Shift I think people mean that we're going to change a mode of thinking to a completely different one--like writing top to bottom instead of left to right. But to shift doesn't mean to replace, just to move. So is our paradigm now in second gear or reverse? Or just stuck in all Caps?

Hit the ground running I did this once in gym class, and still have a scar on my left knee.

Face time To be honest, I don't want any other kind of (body part) time with anyone but my husband. See my note above about behaviors not condoned in the workplace.

Cutting Edge / Bleeding Edge The forefront. The beginning. Leaders, visionaries, etc are on these so-called edges. We're always on the cutting edge, which seems to me that we're about to be sliced in half, like a salami perched on the blade of a knife. Why aren't we "the cutting edge" itself--then we're doing the slicing. Somehow, I'd rather be the knife than the salami.

What else did I miss?

1 comment:

Kathy G said...

Your explanations cracked me up!

Have you ever noticed that as soon as we figure out what the new catchphrases mean they fall out of favor and are replaced by new ones?