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Business Buzzwords


This is one that surely any manager can relate to. It stands for Management By Walking About. The ‘L’ stands for Laughing - do this if you want to really freak out the workers, as it implies you have access to knowledge that they don’t, for instance that the company is about to undertake a massive redundancy programme as they relocate to a cheaper country.

No matter where you work, the phenomenon of MBWA is present. It seems that as soon as anyone is promoted to the lofty status of Manager they automatically feel that by walking about distracting the workforce they are doing their job effectively. Just hope and pray they don’t decide to PYF (Press Your Flesh).


This is another one that is used both in everyday language as well as in the workplace environment, meaning as it does Not In My Back Yard. The work applications for this phrase include a response to the announcement
- we need to install a really noisy drinks machine somewhere in the building, volunteers or
- sorry the bosses bonus was so big this year we’re gonna have to cut jobs in some offices to foot the bill


A good one, this, and has been really in vogue of late. You might have heard colleagues referring to ‘that NLP course’ that so-and-so went on, and how they found it really useful. It’s one of those business crazes, something that is completely unproven but has kind of caught on with everyone doing it.

It refers to a psychological outlook on life and method of communication called Neuro-Linguistic Programming. This much flaunted theory says that you can re-program your mind from how it is now to the way you would like it to be. For instance, remember that painful experience you had as a kid, right? Well, if you imagine yourself playing it back in the movie theatre of your mind (steady on), but with silly music in the background then it will not be painful any more. Fantastic right?

Even better, want to win the quiz night? Hey, no problem; just visualise yourself winning. And if you didn’t win, well you just didn’t visualise hard enough or the right way, which also makes the theory seem unfalsifiable. The ultimate task - imagine that your worst enemy at work gets the sack, and see if it happens. Even if it doesn’t at least you have the satisfaction of imagining how good that moment would be. Though of course you’re too nice to really want someone to get the sack, aren’t you!


If you hear this one mentioned at work, it’s a good bet that the utterer is either old and grey, or old and bald. The good old OverHead Projector has thankfully now been phased out from all but the most archaic of institutions. The device was supposed to use to enable everybody to see diagrams, charts and other fun business creations, but in fact rarely worked.

This was due to a novel combination of: operator inability, broken equipment, and the light and focussing knob making the picture too blurred and too dull for anyone but the eagle eyed to see. Unfortunately these days its not so easy to run a dodgy presentation past the board!


This common one is based on the philosophy that if you keep on doing the same things in the same way, then you’ll get the same results. The solution? To think Outside The Box. OTB’ing is a craze that has swept the nation, closely followed by things such as blue-skying and trying to develop ideas out of leftfield. Confusing, really.


This is one that you’re likely to see on job adverts in the press, and basically means ‘no failures’. It stands for Previous Applicants Need Not Apply, proof that you don’t always have a chance to rectify past mistakes. If you’re a waste of space, they don’t want to see you again. That’s gotta hurt.


Performance Development Plan. That’s the painful document that incentivises you to work hard all year, with its clauses stating that if you don’t deliver its contents you get no bonus or salary increase. And more to the point, your boss won’t get his bonus either unless you deliver your stuff in your PDP - which puts even more pressure on you.

The best thing about these PDP’s is that they are often filled with ‘challenging’ - or impossible - targets, and the justification is that this is always around personal development. Oh, so nothing to do with making the company loads more money then? No, couldn’t possibly be… that’s far too cynical a view!


PEST by name and nature, I’m afraid. Similar idea to SWOT, this is an acronym standing for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. It’s supposed to be a good way of analysing an issue to get a good understanding of what it’s impact could be under each of these categories. And it’s also something you may well be asked to do at a job interview to ‘show your ability’. Of course in reality you’re being asked to solve a problem that the company has been grappling with for ages but has been unable to resolve!


If you work in IT or systems support and have a particularly stupid end user on the line, then you might do well to think of them as a PICNIC. PICNIC stands for ‘Problem In Chair, Not In Computer’. There are often early warning signs of a PICNIC. For instance, when you ask them to turn on the computer and they say ‘how do I do that?’ the chances are that you are dealing with a PICNIC. A definite sign you’re dealing with one is when they tell you the last time they didn’t hand-write a document they were using a typewriter.


Everyone knows at least one or two PITAs. And people can be PITAs for different reasons - whether it’s for always working really hard and staying late (which makes you look bad), or whether it’s for just asking lots of really dumb questions. You’ve guessed it, they’re a real Pain In The Ass.


One of those very annoying acronyms that often gets bandied about by HR during your induction into a new company. PLAN stands for Passion Loyalty And Nous (yes with a phrase like that where else could it come from but HR?)

And in cause you hadn’t guess, this is what any model employee has. Passion - because that brings commitment and a desire to do well. Loyalty - because if you do well then you will hopefully want to stay with the company. And Nous - because they couldn’t think of a more appropriate ‘N’ word (well it was 3pm so HR were already working late).


This is one of the best feelings that you can get at work. What is? That Friday feeling of course (as in TFIF). The term POETS crystallises the attitude of any sane worker to Friday. And that of any compassionate boss, too. That’s because POETS stands for Piss Off Early - Tomorrow’s Saturday. If you leave the office at 1 for a pub lunch never to return, then congratulations - you’ve just experienced the power of POETS day. If you’re still slaving away at 5 on a Friday then sorry, your corporate culture has yet to be enlightened with the joys that POETS day offers.


Ah, the three ‘P’s. This, again, must surely be a training acronym right? Well, you’re not wrong! It’s probably used to stand for lots of different things across companies, but the most common application - and the one we’re using here - is one taken from that presentation skills course everyone is sent on.

You know the one - presented by failed actors and actresses where they video you talking and play it back to the whole class whilst you cringe and ‘constructive feedback’ is proffered? So, PPP stands for the three key P’s of delivering a good presentation - Pause Poise and Presence.

The theory is that you need to pause often so the audience can digest what you’re saying before you move on - so you’d better say something good. Poise, because standing up right and not fiddling with a pencil conveys confidence and relaxes you. Presence, because if you really command the stage then the audience are more likely to maintain interest. The only problem of course is that if you get all these three right, you need to actually have a good speech as well because there’s a slight chance people might actually take it in! Why is life so hard?!


Nobody likes a moaner, and in the spirit of that this acronym was developed - Put Up And Shut Up. It goes something like this
“ok so the air con is broken, your computer is so old it doesn’t even have a hard drive and you’re being relocated to Bognor. But whinging isn’t going to help, so you might as well just PUASU”.


This is one of the best acronyms ever. Whilst most acronyms stand for really straightforward ideas, QUANGO goes in the other direction. It’s so designed that once you know what the letters stand for you still have no idea what it is. QUANGO, standing for Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization, is a case of life imitating art. Because nobody knows what the hell they do, either (apart from use our taxes)


Whilst having no real application to the world of work, this one is included purely because it is the most famous acronym of all. The biggest testiment to its success is that no-one knows what it actually stands for. And interestingly, it isn’t actually a proper acronym, standing as it does for Radio Detection And Ranging. But then would RDAR have ever caught on? No. A truly great acronym has to be pronouncable.


This one sounds pretty dramatic, so there is a fair chance it stands for another type of report. And, indeed it is, and any self-respecting project should have one of these. It is of course a Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies list. As with most of these types of report, there is usually more debate around what fits into each category rather than what the various potential pitfalls around the project are.

So, always keen to add some value, we’re going to help you out with the most commonly confused, the difference between risks and issues. It’s simple really. If something is definitely going to happen/has happened, then it’s an issue. If it’s something that might happen - whether that’s very likely or very unlikely - then it’s a risk. That was painless, wasn’t it!


Standard business speak, meaning Return On Investment. Strangely enough, it’s quite often not thought about when it comes to a project or its justification. But then when you look at how inefficient most businesses are, perhaps it’s not that surprising after all!


Read The Fu**ing Manual. This is what all IT support staff want to say to those idiot Luddite callers, but never have the nerve too, unless it’s their last day. They get their own back by saying “that’s odd, that’s not possible” or “I’ve never heard of that problem occurring before” in response to whatever error you are currently experiencing.

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