Can you tap a resource to execute the next project? Make sure you get it on their radar screen and really sweat the asset to get it done.
Business jargon is somewhat incomprehensible but always dehumanizing, demoralizing and demotivating. In offices all across the United States, we hear these phrases uttered at a constant pace. They make employees feel less than human and like a replaceable part in the massive corporate machine. However, it is simple enough to rehumanize that dehumanizing business jargon.
One of the most dehumanizing words in corporate jargon is resource. It can refer to a copy machine, paper clip or a person. If the resource being referred to breathes air, talks and has a name, it is best NOT to use the word resource.
2. Human capital
A close cousin to resource, but at least this phrase actually acknowledges that people are different than staplers. The people who spend 40+ hours a week working for a company are more valuable than this term implies. Without PEOPLE — a company cannot survive.
“We’d like to tap your brain for this upcoming project.” Ouch! You mean stick a metal object into my brain to drain out my intellect like I am a maple tree. No thanks, but I am happy to help you with the project.
4. It is what it is
This translates into I have completely given up on trying to solve this problem or I am completely powerless to help. Try listening, talking and coming up with solutions to see if you can change whatever “it is” into something better.
5. Radar screen
“You need to put this on your radar screen.” I don’t have a radar screen. Am I being promoted to an air traffic controller? How much harder could that be than playing Asteroids?
Instead, use “be aware of” or “take note” of the upcoming project.
6. Take it to the next level
“We need to take our deliverables to the next level.” Cool. Apparently, we are playing Super Mario Brothers at work and I didn’t realize it. I will get to the next level and save Princess Toadstool. Instead of this meaningless and overused phrase, outline the goals for the future and how the company is going to get there.
7. Bleeding edge
“There has to be bleeding edge thinking on this project.” This phrase just conjures up an image of a blood covered knife; not what I want to be thinking about if I want to push my thinking forward. How about using “creative thinking” or even “leading edge?” Anything is better than blood in the cubicle.
“How are we going to execute the project?” This overused word brings to mind more violent images and makes me wonder what did the poor project do to deserve this treatment? Try using the simple word “do” instead.
9. Bandwidth or cycles
“I’ll see if she has any bandwidth for these additional duties.” As much as I wish I was HAL 2000 refusing to open the pod bay doors, employees are not computers. Try instead this fantastic word – time. “I’ll see if she has the time for these additional duties.”
10. Sweat the asset
A company that gets every last drop of value out of its resources whether it be a person or machine. When referring to employees, let’s just stop using this phrase, ok? Thanks.
11. Cross pollination
“By bringing together the two teams, we are hoping you can cross-pollinate.” We are getting bees in the office? Isn’t than dangerous? Bees sting.
Oh, you mean — “share ideas.”
12. Flight risk
“I think Joe’s a flight risk.” Have you thought that Joe might be a flight risk because you talk about him like a prisoner? I’d want to quit too if I felt like an inmate at my job.
Rehumanizing dehumaninzing language in the office place is easy — just talk like a human being in plain language that builds relationships rather than demoralizes them.
Project management is a specialty, and it has its own language. Resistance is futile.
- Scope – It’s what has to be done. Always too general for some and too specific for others. Never right.
- Resources – Funding and people authorized for the project. Never enough and always in the wrong denominations.
- Schedule – How much time you have to get it all done. Never enough.
- Project Manager – You. The person responsible for everything, and in control of nothing.
- Sponsor – The one that wanted it in the first place. The one that shudders when you walk in because you always bring a problem, and give them way too many details.
- Customer – The group that want things their way.
- Vendor – The other group that wants things their way.
- Users – People addicted to the old way.
- Escalation – A process that defies gravity, and moves problems uphill.
- Documentation – The last task in a project, or later.
- Flowcharts – Cubicle art.
- Team – Your best friends. The group that, when asked who caused a problem, forms a circle and each person points to the left.
- Work Group – An oxymoron.
- Oxymorons – People that take more than their share of oxygen from a project.
- Project Plan – A deliverable assigned to the most annoying person on the project, who doesn’t recognize his or her work is done after the project has started and is going according to plan.
- Almost Done – Where you are after Day 1 of the project. What you say when the “80% done” answer quits working.
- RFI – Request for Information. A request for a customized marketing document.
- RFP – Request for Proposal. A request to take a monkey off a customer’s back.
- RFQ – Request for Qualifications. A request for a customized marketing document. A good source of boilerplate information for the RFP.
- RFQQ – Adds a price quote to the RFQ. Generally from a vendor that has too little information from a customer that has too little understanding. Binding.
- RFK – An important reminder that even the best project managers can find themselves in a bay of pigs.
- Proposal – A document of sweeping generalizations.
- Testing – What development is called after the development schedule has passed.
- Testing – What the end-users do when the testing schedule has passed. Sometimes called Post-implementation Support.
- Process Reengineering – Today’s processes, turned sideways.
- KPIs – Key Performance Indicators. Objective measures of failure, most often advocated by opponents. Never tracked.
- CSFs – Critical Success Factors. An early view of the blunders you will certainly make. Always tracked, but never called CSFs.
If this sounds familiar, you are an experienced project manager, undoubtedly overworked, underpaid and not appreciated. Get a dog.