40 Corporate Jargon You Must (not) Use At Office!

[monkeytools msnip=”http://memochimp.com/memo.php?u=1378&p=682″] corporate jargonCorporate jargon? What’s that?

Several years ago the start-up that I was working at was acquired by a much bigger company.

Now if you have worked at a start-up you know the typical culture and the benefits. It is much closely knit, everyone pretty much understands everyone else, there is more bonhomie and collaboration and cooperation – bottom line (ah, there goes one from me!), lot gets done in a short period of time.

In larger companies the scenario is rather contrasting.

There is, usually, lot of ‘red-tapism’, lot of meetings, multiple levels of approval hierarchy that leads to delay in decision-making, more ‘office work’ than what is needed to get things done. Not to blame the system, all these frills come with scaling the organization (is that one more?). Some of it is probably needed to systematize proceedings (not again!), and some of it creeps in as inefficiencies.

One common thing you would notice is the use of corporate jargon.

Plenty of them at times.

Sometimes they are used, sometimes abused, and to a large extent accepted to be the part of ‘corporate language’. Some of them (if not most) are quite annoying.

Whoever said beauty is in simplicity.

If you have joined a bigger corporation recently and are perplexed at the onslaught of  jargon, here’s your guide to surpassing the ‘corporate language barrier’.

I might have been guilty of using some of them in my conversations, but the fact that they are listed here does not mean I endorse any of them.

Use them at your own risk.

Corporate Jargon
What It Means Example Usage
 At this juncture Now “We are not prepared to take that risk at this juncture”
 Takeaways Main points “It’s been a long meeting, and John, what are some of the takeaways for you?”
 Transitioned Fired (usually) “Jake has been transitioned out”
 Let go Same as above “Oh, we had to let them go for better opportunities”
 Assignment capsules Clearly defined job description “I’d rather focus on assignment capsule than KPIs right now”
 Mouse potato Addicted to the computer “He used to be a couch potato, now he’s a mouse potato”
 Drill down Get into depth of information in a hierarchical manner “If you drill down enough you will figure that it all boils down to people”
 Arrows of fire Points to use in an argument “Have you got any more arrows of fire or do we close this review now?”
 Bus factor  Rather bad way of saying most valuable employee. If she’s hit by a bus your project would be severely impacted “What’s the bus factor of your project?”
Armchair general Someone that speaks critically of everything but does not have the experience in the field “Our new head of Engineering seems like an armchair general”
Reach out Contact someone “I am going to reach out to Rachel and see if I can pull some strings in here”
Run this up the flagpole Giving the idea/project/task a try “Let’s run this up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes it!”
Above-board Open and honest “It appeared that the interview candidate was above-board with his current situation”
Offline Let’s have a separate conversation (usually used in a meeting when a topic related to couple of participants threatens to waste others’ time) “Okay, let’s take it offline. Let’s move on to the next topic on the agenda.”
Across the piece Affecting entire organization (project or department) “We are looking to implement this process across the piece”
Open the Kimono Suggests that the department/company is going to make a startling revelation. “We’re going to open the Kimono at the all-hands today”
All-hands Department-wide or company-wide meeting – includes all the staff “We’re going to open the Kimono at the all-hands today”
Aggressive mediocrity A conscious effort to make sure that only bare minimum is achieved “Let’s put him in charge here, he’s a master of aggressive mediocrity”
Heads-up Just telling something (also a way to soften the blow) “I just wanted to give you a heads-up on our appraisal policy changes”
Al Desko Any meal had at desk in office “I need to wrap up this report by end of the day, so I’m having lunch Al Desko”
Resources An inhumane way of referring to employees “I need 4 more Java resources”
Alpha pup Trending setting young employee “I need few alpha pups for my focus group”
ASAP As soon as possible (another related one, ALAP – figure this out 🙂 ) “Please drop me a mail on this ASAP”
Leverage Use (yes, its that simple) “We need to leverage cloud computing practices and hedge our risks”
Hedge Reduce “We need to leverage cloud computing practices and hedge our risks”
Air it out Discuss openly “Let’s meet with the team and air it out”
Game-changing As the name suggests (it better be that good) “We think this marketing idea is a game-changer for us”
No-brainer An obvious good idea “Yeah, let’s do it. It’s a no-brainer.”
Revert/ Circle back Simply means replying/responding on the topic “I have to circle back with Janice on this, I’ll revert by tomorrow”
Put on the back burner Temporarily shelve it “Let’s put this feature on the back burner for now”
Sunset Kill/Cancel like a feature or product “We’re going to sunset it by end of the year”
Thought shower Another word for brainstorm – or simply discuss (with an intention of generating) ideas “Let’s give it a thought shower later today”
Core competency Fundamental strength “I need you to map your team’s core-competency and tie it to their KPIs”
Vertical A specific area of expertise “We need to re-org our company around verticals”
Free cycles Availability of time to spend on a task/project “Sorry, I don’t have any free cycles right now”
Swim lane A specific responsibility within a business organization “We need to map this quarter’s lateral hires to swim lanes”
Lateral hire Experienced people hired from other companies (as against, Freshers) “What’s the lateral hire forecast for next quarter?”
Move the needle Doesn’t generate a reaction (like for a new marketing campaign presented to the executive management) “Well, if it doesn’t move the needle let’s not push for it”
Tiger teams Group of experts tasked with curing a computer problem “Quick, summon the tiger team!”
It is what it is It is what it is “It is what it is”


That’s a mouthful of choicest corporate jargon you can use to confuse your team mates (or manager) at your next meeting.

What are some of the ‘interesting’ jargon you have come across? 🙂

Photo credits: thesaleswhisperer and commitstrip.com


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