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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over the wall

Posted on December 13, 2017

a term used when functional units operate in isolation, implying that projects are passed off from one group to the next without cooperation or coordination and so without regard for the needs of the downstream user; conjures up an image of objects tossed blindly over a separating wall to the next group, as in “The developers didn’t talk to marketing at all before going live, that’s an over-the-wall design” (used here as an adjective); can also be used to refer to the final delivery of a product or service, which is then irretrievably thrown over the metaphorical wall of a company to the end user

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ring the cash register

Posted on December 6, 2017

to make quick and profitable sales or collect earnings in some other straightforward manner; derives from the era of the mechanical cash register, for which completion of a transaction triggers the automatic opening of the cash drawer accompanied by an audible ring; a continual backdrop of ringing would thus result from a high frequency of sales, implying rapidly accruing profits; the phrase points to an opportunity to gain income or build up cash reserves that requires little effort

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stirring a pot of water

Posted on November 28, 2017

to perform a task that requires meaningful expenditure of energy and time but yields no conceivable benefits; may be done unwittingly, in which case this phrase may be used to gently admonish the hearer of the futility of his efforts, redirecting him to more productive tasks; this activity may also be done to provide the appearance of productivity to outsiders, who will not investigate further and thus uncover the truth; rel., water the grass in a thunderstorm

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chalk the field

Posted on November 22, 2017

to establish the parameters under which subsequent activities will take place, from the analogy to preparing a sports field for play by marking boundary lines, goal areas, etc.; used when preliminary steps are necessary to guide what ensues, as in “We need to spend the first month in each expansion region chalking the field”; can also suggest the definition or explication of regulatory or ethical boundaries to ensure that permissible behaviors are understood

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shake the trees

Posted on November 14, 2017

to attempt to revive a moribund organization or part thereof through radical action, as in “Sales have been down for three quarters so we’d better shake the trees here”; conveys the sense of rousing individuals from their torpor and triggering frantic, surprised activity that is nonetheless appropriate given the urgency of a situation; suggests that the intended targets are analogous to a flock of birds nestled high in the foliage and unconcerned with realities on the ground; an alternate, less common meaning is to attempt to gain quick benefit through some simple action, as if dislodging fruit already on the verge on falling

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granular

Posted on November 8, 2017

a detailed level of abstraction, often used when referring to the coarseness of a particular analysis, as in: “We need to get more granular on those Asian revenue projections, China needs separate numbers”; can imply that the work under review or the thinking it represents is insufficiently sophisticated or not specific enough for implications to be drawn out; related to the term texture, which suggests a level of metaphorical magnification that allows details to be seen; obliquely related to color, which references elements that provide greater impact or nuance

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