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            Management Speak Compilation
InfoWorld's Bob Lewis

QUESTION: How can you tell a politician is lying
ANSWER: His lips are moving.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I'm glad you asked me that.
TRANSLATION: Public relations has written a carefully phrased answer.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We have an opportunity.
TRANSLATION: You have a problem.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We have to put on our marketing hats.
TRANSLATION: We have to put ethics aside.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: All of our customers are satisfied.
TRANSLATION: Everyone else has taken their business elsewhere.


MANAGEMENT SPEAK:That's a good question.
TRANSLATION: I don't have a good answer.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: You have to show some flexibility.
TRANSLATION: You have to do it whether you want to or not.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: You just don't understand our business.
TRANSLATION: We don't understand our business.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: My mind is made up. I am adamant on the subject. There is no room for discussion. But if you do want to discuss it further, my door is always open.
TRANSLATION: &%^$ you.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I don't totally disagree with you.
TRANSLATION: You may be right, but I don't care.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We want to deliver a quality product.
TRANSLATION: The product will be late and over budget.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: The system has to be flexible.
TRANSLATION: We don't know what the hell we want.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We're going to follow a strict methodology here.
TRANSLATION: We're going to do it my way.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: Human Resources.
TRANSLATION: A bulk commodity, like lentils or cinder blocks.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: Empower (verb)
TRANSLATION: Freely blame your subordinates for your problems.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I'd like your buy-in on this.
TRANSLATION: I want someone else to blame when this thing bombs.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: You need to see the big picture.
TRANSLATION: My boss thinks it's a good idea.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: The upcoming reductions will benefit the vast majority of employees.
TRANSLATION: The upcoming reductions will benefit me.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I don't disagree.
TRANSLATION: I disagree.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I'm not saying no, but I'm certainly not saying yes.

MANAGEMENT-SPEAK: It's not possible. It's impractical. It won't work.
TRANSLATION: I don't know how to do it.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I understand your idea, and I think it may be of use to us in the future.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: Our division initiatives will be successful only if we act together across the company, managing cross-organizational dependencies and maximizing the synergy based on the company's broad assets.
TRANSLATION: We need to get another cost center manager to pay for them.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: That's an intriguing notion that merits additional thought on the part of our best people.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We've learned our lesson and we'll never make that mistake again.
TRANSLATION: Shut up! I don't want to talk about it and I certainly don't want you to rub my nose in it.
ALTERNATE TRANSLATION: We have an entirely different mistake in mind for next time.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: You have to apply common sense to this problem.
TRANSLATION: You have to think like me.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: People are our greatest asset.
TRANSLATION: People are our biggest expense item.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I want you to be pro-active on this.
TRANSLATION: I want you to take the blame if there's any heat.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I understand you feel you are overloaded. To help me get a handle on your workload, please keep a daily record of everything you do and how long each task takes. I will evaluate this and see what suggestions I can offer.
TRANSLATION: If you have time to do the list, you're not too busy. If you don't have time to do the list, it'll get you off of my back. MANAGEMENT SPEAK: This assignment will be a good learning experience for you.
TRANSLATION: It's a thankless job that no one wants any part of.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: This was the most successful project I've ever participated in!
TRANSLATION: Everyone liked the report. Even better, the company changed direction before we had to make it work.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: A number of innovative approaches are currently under consideration.
TRANSLATION: We have no idea what we should be doing.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: It's a good suggestion, but we don't have time to develop the perfect system.
TRANSLATION: It's too hard for me, it's out of my league, and I sure don't want my subordinate taking the lead!

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: Quality is an overhead expense and must be reduced.
TRANSLATION: Management is an unnecessary expense but we'll keep funding it.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: The project team has been working diligently on the release and has made significant progress.
TRANSLATION: The project is behind schedule.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I know we've empowered you, but that doesn't mean you can say no.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We have many ideas about how the site would be used and what tools would be effective. We think it best to let the site evolve around those that use it.
TRANSLATION: We have no idea what we want to do. Come up with a system that will do it.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: Next week we will have a retreat for our management team and key employees.
TRANSLATION: We're holding a beauty contest. We're going to pick your brains and then downsize everyone we decide we don't like.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We can't use freeware because there's no support for it.
TRANSLATION: We won't be able to blame the vendor when we have problems.
ALTERNATE TRANSLATION: We never do anything we haven't done before.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: I understand your idea, and I think it may be of use to us in the future.

MANAGEMENT SPEAK: We have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders.
TRANSLATION: You're fired.

Bob Lewis is a Minneapolis-based consultant for Perot Systems Corp.

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