at-bats

Posted on February 21, 2018

discrete opportunities to attempt something, as in “We need to fix these issues before we ship the next version or we won’t get another at-bat”; derives from the sport of baseball, in which players face the opposing team’s pitcher multiple times in a game; this term is used to evoke a sporting or competitive atmosphere, conjuring up the collegiality or informality often associated with sport-related analogies; for the Commonwealth citizen this jargon may have rather different connotations, as a cricketer may have only one opportunity to bat in a match, although it may be of much longer duration than in baseball; related to bite of the apple

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parking lot

Posted on February 14, 2018

an intangible area where untimely, tangential, or otherwise undesirable ideas that crop up are metaphorically placed, often to be abandoned, as in: “Let’s put price increases in the parking lot for now, we want to stay focused on unit growth”; from the idea that vehicles not currently in use can be moved to a remote location and turned off, to be revisited only when needed; this phrase is often used to gently redirect a conversation that has strayed down a digressive path, without coming across too sternly; some meetings may utilize a visual parking lot, where such items are noted in an area separated from the main writing space

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thud factor

Posted on February 6, 2018

a holdover term from the analog era, in which the substance and impressiveness of one’s work would be captured in the heft of the documents dropped on the conference room table at the start of a meeting, generating a solid boom, as in “Make sure you include all seven appendices in the investment committee report, we need the thud factor”; the phrase contains an unstated yet undeniable sense of satisfaction on the part of the one causing the thud, as he or she is proud of the volume of output produced and wishes to call attention to it; in modern parlance the thud factor is largely metaphorical, as weighty compilations of documents have been replaced by digital communications, and there is as yet no good way to drop files in cloud storage onto an oak boardroom table; the thud factor is primarily intended to dazzle an audience, which in most cases is disinclined to actually pore over the work product in detail, being satisfied by its mere existence

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build in the minefield

Posted on January 31, 2018

to ignore risks and continue on a course of action that has a high chance of ending in a metaphorically explosive fashion, due to circumstances of which one is generally aware although specifics are unknown; stems from the tactic in modern warfare of hiding mines irregularly over large swathes of land to deter encroachment; can be used to refer to political risks, as would be incident to investing in a country undergoing governmental or populist upheaval, as in “We can’t invest in another factory in Slangia, that would just be building in the minefield”; may also be used in relation to an organizational dynamic fraught with tensions, interpersonal conflicts, bad history, etc., such that a certain course of action would be precarious, as in “This company has a terrible track record with branding, creating a new marketing team would be like building in a minefield”

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boat rocking

Posted on January 24, 2018

actions that lead to often-needless agitation, done as an attention-grabbing measure or even unwittingly, as in “Jeff shouldn’t lead the reorganization, he’s already got a reputation for boat rocking”; boat rocking may nonetheless be tolerated in individuals whose other attributes are more valuable to an organization than their callousness is destructive; evokes the behavior of someone large enough to cause a small watercraft to roll and pitch uncomfortably, threatening to dump passengers and their belongings into the drink; similar to shake the trees, although this suggests more deliberate action while boat rocking has less salutary effects

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sing from the same hymn sheet

Posted on January 17, 2018

(also same song sheet or hymnal) to be in complete accord concerning a decision that needs to be undertaken, or to have identical perspectives on a given issue; comes from the requirement for church choirs to have consistent musical instructions in order to sing harmoniously, although in an increasingly post-Christian Western culture this derivation may not be commonly understood; this condition contrasts with the cacophony that would presumably result were singers to attempt to perform different hymns simultaneously; other jargon of ecclesiastical origin includes preach to the choir and build the church for Easter

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pound the table

Posted on January 9, 2018

to advocate fervently in favor of a particular point of view or on behalf of someone; directly recalls the image of someone beating a table with a clenched fist due to the fervor of his or her beliefs; this phrase suggests passion and is used when the desired connotations are positive, as in “During the annual reviews I’m going to pound the table for Raj’s promotion, he’s been responsible for 90 percent of our new business wins this past year”; related to go to bat for, which refers to providing support to someone who is in a position requiring bolstering or defense

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baked

Posted on January 3, 2018

finalized or completed, as in, “That last version we sent out wasn’t fully baked, we’ll have to update it”; evokes the last step in the preparation of foods that require an oven, or a kiln-dried clay object that is now ready for use; the words ‘done’ or ‘finished’ are manifestly clearer but lack its insidery blitheness; related to crisp, used to describe something that has reached a sufficient level of clarity or precision

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level-set

Posted on December 27, 2017

(verb) to ensure agreement or otherwise establish the parameters for a subsequent discussion, generally done in order to head off potential digressions, as in “Just to level-set, we should focus our discussion today on implementation issues only”; can also be used to lower expectations and so temper undue enthusiasm, in case the listener was expecting to review more complex work than what is about to be presented; may also be invoked to subtly redirect a conversation by introducing a topic different from the one under consideration; as with many examples of business jargon this term is used to enforce the speaker’s desires without appearing too aggressive

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Christmas tree

Posted on December 20, 2017

(adj.) a concept, proposal or element of work that is formless or broad, to the extent that it lacks real meaning or that innumerable additional elements could be attached to it, as in: “That’s a Christmas tree proposal Bob, you could hang anything on it”; refers to the Western tradition of decorating an evergreen with all manner of bric-a-brac and baubles during the Christmas season, leading to trees that are increasingly weighted down with a profusion of elements of varying designs; can be used obliquely to critique a lack of specificity or careful thought in what has been presented; may also be an intentional choice, for example when responding to a client’s proposal request in as expansive a fashion as possible to increase the chances of closing the deal

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