89 Business Clichés by Eric Jackson for Forbes.com 1. It’s a paradigm shift = I don’t know what’s going on in our business. But we’re not making as much money as we used to. 2. We’re data-driven = We try not to make decisions by the seat of our pants. When possible, we try to base them in facts. 3. We need to wrap our heads around this = Gosh, I never thought of that. We need to discuss that…. 4. It’s a win-win = Hey, we both get something out of this (even though I’m really trying to get the best from you) 5. ROI [used in any sentence] = Look at me, I’m very financially-minded, even if I never took any finance classes in school 6. Let’s blue sky this/let’s ballpark this = Let’s shoot around a bunch of ideas since we have no clue what to do 7. I’m a bit of a visionary = I’m a bit of an egomaniac and narcissist 8. I’m a team player/we only hire team players = I hope everyone on the team thinks this is a meritocracy, even though I’m the dictator in charge 9. Let’s circle back to that/Let’s put that in the parking lot/let’s touch base on that later/let’s take this off-line = Shut up and let’s go back to what I was talking about 10. We think outside the box here/color outside the lines = We wouldn’t know about how to do something innovative if it came up to us and bit us in the behind 11. I/we/you don’t have the bandwidth = Since we cut 60% of our headcount, we’re all doing the job of 3 people, so we’re all burned out 12. This is where the rubber meets the road = Don’t screw up 13. Net net/the net of it is/when you net it out = I never studied finance or accounting but I sound like someone who can make money if I keep talking about another word for profit 14. We’ll go back and sharpen our pencils = We’ll go back and offer you the same for 20% less in hopes you’ll buy it before the end of the quarter
15. It’s like the book “Crossing the Chasm”/”Blue Ocean”/”Good To Great” / “Tipping Point” / “Outliers” = I’ve never read any of these books but I sound literate if I quote from them. And, besides, you cretins probably never read them either to call me out on it 16. Let’s right-size it = Let’s whack/fire a bunch of people 17. It’s next-gen/turn-key/plug-and-play = I want it to sound so technical that you’ll just buy it without asking me any questions 18. We need to manage the optics of this = How can we lie about this in a way people will believe? 19. This is creative destruction = I’ve never read Joseph Schumpeter but our core business is getting killed so it’s your responsibility to come up with a new product the market will buy 20. We don’t have enough boots on the ground = I don’t want to be fired for this disastrous product/country launch, so I’m going to sound tough referring to the military and say I don’t have enough resources 21. Deal with it = Tough cookies 22. By way of housekeeping = This makes the boring stuff I’m about to say sound more official 23. That’s the $64,000 question [sometimes, due to inflation, people will denominate this cliche in millions or billions of dollars] = I don’t know either 24. Let’s square the circle = I’m someone who can unify two team members’ views and sound important 25. It’s our cash cow/protect/milk the cash cow = If that business goes south, we’re all out of a job 26. It’s about synergies/1 + 1 = 3 = I don’t get the math either, but it sounds like more and more is better, right? 27. Who’s going to step up to the plate? = One of you is going to do this and it’s not going to be me 28. We’re eating our own dog food = It sounds gross but we seem like honest folks if we do this. 29. We need to monetize/strategize/analyze/incentivize = When in doubt, stick “-ize” on the end of a word and say we’ve got to do this and 9 out of 10 times, it will sound action-oriented. 30. We did a Five Forces/SWOT analysis/Value Chain analysis = We didn’t really do any of that, but none of you probably even remember Michael Porter, so what the heck
31. It was a perfect storm = We really screwed up but we’re going to blame a bunch of factors that are out of our hands (especially weather) 32. At the end of the day…. = OK, enough talking back and forth, we’re going to do what I want to do 33. Who’s got the ‘R’? [i.e., responsibility to do what we just spent 20 minutes talking about aimlessly] = If I ask the question, it won’t be assigned to me 34. Let’s put lipstick on this pig = plug your nose 35. I’m putting a stake in the ground here… = I’m a leader, simply because I’m using this cliche 36. We’re customer-focused/proactive/results-oriented = That can’t be bad, right? This is motherhood and apple pie stuff 37. Our visibility into the quarter is a little fuzzy = Sales just fell off a cliff 38. That’s not our core competency/we’re sticking to our knitting = We’re just glad we’re making money in one business, because we’d have no clue how to get into any other business 39. Well, we’re facing some headwinds there = You put your finger on the area we’re panicking over 40. It’s a one-off = Do whatever they want to close the sale 41. Incent it = That’s not a verb but I just made it into one because I’m a man/woman of action 42. I’m an agent of change = This makes it sound like I know how to handle the chaos that our business is constantly going through 43. We’ve got to do a little more due diligence there = Don’t have a clue but does that legal term make me sound detail-oriented? 44. Don’t leave money on the table = Be as greedy with them as possible 45. We take a “ready, fire, aim” approach here = We totally operate on a seat-of-the-pants basis 46. Hope is not a strategy = I don’t have a strategy, but this makes it sound like I’m above people who also don’t have a strategy 47. We have to tear down the silos internally = Our organizational structure is such a mess that I’m going to be under-mined by other departments at every turn 48. I don’t think it will move the needle = This won’t get my boss excited
49. Good to put a face to the name = I’d really rather talk to that person behind you 50. Let’s take the 30,000 foot view… = I like to think I see the big picture 51. It’s the old 80-20 rule = I really have no idea what the rule was, but I just want to focus on the things that will make us successful 52. We need to manage expectations = Get ready to start sucking up to people 53. It’s not actionable enough/what’s the deliverable? = You guys do the work on refining the idea. I’m too tired. 54. My 2 cents is… = This opinion is worth a heck of a lot more than 2 cents 55. I’m going to sound like a broken record here… = I want to clearly point out to you idiots that I’ve made this point several times before 56. We’ve got too many chiefs and not enough Indians = I want to be the Chief 57. Going forward = Don’t screw up like this again 58. My people know I’ve got an open door policy = I’ve told my direct reports to come to me if they have a problem, so why should I feel bad if they complain I’m too busy to talk to them? 59. It’s gone viral = Someone sent a tweet about this 60. I know you’ve been burning the candle on both ends = Get ready to do some more 61. It’s scalable = We can sell a lot of it in theory 62. It’s best-of-breed = We hired a market research firm to say that 63. We’re all about value-add = Unlike our competitors who seek to add no value 64. What’s our go-to-market? = Has anyone planned this out, because I’ve been too busy? 65. I’m drinking from a fire hose right now = I want a little sympathy over here, because I’m tired of carrying this company on my back 66. We’re getting some push back = They’re not buying it 67. We need to do a level-set = I’ve never been inside a Home Depot, but this phrase makes me sound handy 68. It’s basic blocking and tackling = How could you screw this up? I also played high school football and those were the best days of my life.
69. Let’s put our game faces on = Get serious, guys 70. We’ve got it covered from soup to nuts = I have no idea what that means, but don’t you dare question my prep work on it 71. We don’t want to get thrown under the bus = So let’s throw someone else first 72. But to close the loop on this… = Always the more theoretical Business Development/Strategy guys who say this, so they can sound thorough 73. What are “next steps”? = Did anyone take notes during the last 90 minutes of this meeting? 74. This is low-hanging fruit = Get this done quickly 75. We need a few quick wins = We’ve got to trick people into thinking we know what we’re doing by some successes we can point to and claim as ours 76. It’s a [Insert Company Name] killer = Did I get your attention yet with the Freddy Kreuger imagery associated with the company who’s currently eating our lunch? 77. I want to address the elephant in the room = I know you think I’m trying to cover up/gloss over something, so I might as well talk about it 78. This is the next big thing/new thing = Some of our 20-somethings have told me this is really cool 79. This time it’s different because… = Don’t wait for the explanation… simply run for the hills 80. What are the best practices on this? = How can I cover my behind that we’re just doing stuff the way other good people have supposedly done this? 81. This is our deliverable = I know this sounds like something that comes in a body bag, but it makes our PowerPoint sound tougher than it actually is 82. We’ll loop you in when we need to = You’re not that important to know about all the details on this 83. We want this to move up and to the right = I failed high school algebra but someone said this means we’ll be making a lot of money if this happens 84. We’re going through a re-org = No one knows what the heck is going on at the moment 85. We’ve got to increase our mind-share with the customer = I think I would have been happier as a doctor doing lobotomies than in marketing as a career path
86. I don’t think you’re comparing apples to apples = Let me tell you how you should really think about this issue 87. Let’s peel back the onion on this = I want to sound thorough so this is a better way of telling you that than simply clearing my throat 88. You phoned it in = I was too busy checking my email during your presentation that I didn’t listen 89. I want you to run with this = I just threw you into the deep end of the pool and you’re on your own to figure it out If you commit all these 89 to memory, I confer onto you an MBA of Business Cliches. Congratulations By Eric Jackson for Forbes.com