Business Cliches and Phrases

Business speak is full of jargon, and fairly meaningless phrases masquerading as English. To help you decode what they may mean, we've compiled a list of some of the most common. Know any others? Then send them to us!

You can even score your own phrase!

Best of Breed

Context: If we're going to survive in this market, we'll need to challenge the best of breed
Meaning: Our service is rubbish compared to our biggest competitors. Similar: Best in class.

Bespoke
Context: We'll develop you a bespoke solution
Meaning: We won't flog you the mass market solution - we'll actually develop something specifically for you.

Big Hitter
Context: I'm in awe of that Exec - he's a really Big Hitter
Meaning: Someone powerful within the confines of the company. Variant: hard hitter.

Blue Sky Thinking
Context: Let's start with a blank sheet of paper and do some blue sky thinking and see what happens
Meaning: this is similar to thinking 'out of the box' and is supposed to be a situation where you come up with ideas taking into account no preconceptions and not dismissing ideas instantly

Brain Dump
Context: Have a brain dump and see what you come up with
Meaning: Brainstorm

Core Competencies
Context: We need to focus on our core competencies in order to maintain our edge in the marketplace
Meaning: What you/your company does well

Customer Centric
Context: We need to be customer centric from now on
Meaning: Since ultimately we sell to the customer, we might as well listen to what they're saying. Similar: customer driven.

Cutting Edge
Context: This is cutting edge technology we're using
Meaning: This is the most recent version. Slightly less bugs.

End to End
Context: Let's visualise the process end-to-end
Meaning: Let's work out the whole process

E.T.A.
Context: What's the E.T.A. on this report?
Meaning: short for Expected time of arrival, ie how long will it take to get it finished.

First Mover
Context: If we launch 3G now, we'll have first mover advantage
Meaning: If we pay massive advertising costs to educate customers about this new development, we'll hopefully have the advantage of getting lots of customers. If not, we've paid to educate people whilst other companies with no ad costs will reap the rewards.

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Going Forward
Context: I think it's important that, going forward, you continue to manage the project pro-actively.
Meaning: In the future

Go To Market
Context: We need to update our go-to-market strategy.
Meaning: Cross your fingers

Granular
Details or detail-oriented.

High level
Context: Remember the more important you are, the more you're concerned with high level thinking
Meaning: Similar to the big picture, this is taking an overall view rather than looking at the nitty-gritty detail

In the Last Day
as in, "New Data on Infrastructure in the Last Day" This is used in an Info Tech (IT) context. I don't think its meaning is Biblical, but I'm having trouble grappling with it...

Joined Up
Context: From now on this company will only engage in joined up thinking
Meaning: Looking at things from the wider point of view rather than with a narrow focus

Leading (Market)
Context: I want to develop a market leading proposition
Meaning: I want to develop something better than our competitors.

Leverage (the Proposition)
Context: See if you can leverage the proposition with them over point 2b, sub-para 5, clause 2
Meaning: Getting some value out of a certain situation for you/your project goals

Low Hanging Fruit
Context: We started off by removing the low hanging fruit, before looking at the tougher problems
Meaning: The bits that can be done quickly and easily but still have an effect. Origin: unknown, and that's probably a good thing.

Manage Expectations
Context: Make sure that you manage expectations so that they're not disappointed if we can't deliver
Meaning: Make sure people expect realistic outcomes from a project - e.g. not too much

Memorialize
We no longer document things, we 'memorialize' things.

Mission Critical
Context: Handling the pressure of the project OK? I mean, it is mission critical!
Meaning: If we don't deliver with this project, we're screwed. It's pretty important!

On the Planet
This is the greatest product on the planet. Chiefly indicates the megalomania of the utterer or the utterer's firm. What other planet would the product be on, for Cripe's sake?

Out of the box
Context: It'd be great if you could think out of the box and generate some radical ideas
Meaning: Don't just come up with the same old obvious solutions, try and be creative when brainstorming ideas.

Out of Pocket
Context: I'll be out-of-pocket for the next two days and won't finish the project.
Meaning: I'm shacking up with my girlfriend - leave me alone.

Pro-active
Context: I think we need to be a bit pro-active here
Meaning: If you don't keep on pestering someone about this, nothing will happen

Push Back
Context: Can you just push back on that point and get him to amend his stance?
Meaning: Try to get someone to change their mind, or debate a point, by questioning someone's opinion

Quick Win
Context: Please come up with a list of quick wins we can look to implement
Meaning: Things that are fairly simple (in terms of time and/or cost) and will help improve the situation with regards to a project/product

Robust
Context: Before taking this to market, let's make sure it's robust
Meaning: Let's be sure it doesn't break down within the first few months

Scalable
Context: It's a great solution for 100 customers, but is it Scalable?
Meaning: Will it work for lots of people as well as just a few?

Seamless
Context: Ideally our customers would experience a seamless proposition
Meaning: Our customers want one, easy relationship with us no matter how they contact us

Solutions
Context: Let's be pro-active in our brainstorming of solutions
Meaning: I haven't got a clue how to fix this - any ideas?

Space
Context: There's a lot going on in the moment in that space
Meaning: There's a lot of activity in that area in that moment, e.g. development of e-mail tools.

State of the Art
Context: This is great - it's a state of the art solution
Meaning: Really good, the best, most modern solution

Take offline
Context: I think that's a separate issue, so can you take it offline please?
Meaning: Discuss the point further outside the meeting / at another time. Bizarrely, nothing whatsoever to do with being online as in on the internet.

Take ownership
Context: I think it's up to you to really take ownership of the piece of work
Meaning: You need to get a grip and be responsible for the piece of work

Team Player
Context: Jonesy from accounts is a real team player
Meaning: Someone who is not just out for themselves but works well with others and has a concern for their well-being

The Big Picture
Context: I think it's important that we remember to look at the big picture
Meaning: The overall situation, e.g. when working on a small aspect of a project it is helpful to remember the project as a whole

The New World
Context: Of course, in the new world things will look a little different
Meaning: The structure of a company after a re-structure or major shake-up.

Touch Base
Context - "I need to touch base with Fred on this one."
Meaning - "I need to go a speak to fred about something"

Traction
Context: I'm concerned. We're working hard, but not getting much traction on this.
Meaning: Despite our best efforts, no-one is doing what we want and that's stopping our progress with what we want to do.

Turnkey
Context: I'm striving for that illusive thing - the turnkey solution
Meaning: A solution that really opens doors - hence turn key. Funny really. From reader Ian: A turn key solution is one that once in place and the 'key is turned' is then ready for use straight away not one that opens doors.

Upskill
Context: During your career it's important to ensure you continue to upskill
Meaning: To improve your marketability and worth to a company by developing your skills

Win win
Context: Try and see if you can come up with a win-win situation
Meaning: A situation that is good for people on both sides. A bit of a myth and so management are pretty keen on asking for it.

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