Submitted by Helesia Luke, Ethos Strategy Group
A NIMBLE organization advises its employees not to bring more personal stuff to work than can be carried home on the bus (later that day).
Surely there must be dictionaries out there somewhere dedicated solely to New Age Management lingo — the body of mystical-sounding buzz-words that supposedly describe transcendent ways of running organizations.
Submitted by John Tiebout
How about onboard, as a verb? Or as an adjective, as in the onboarding process? Just writing this in an e-mail makes my hair hurt.
I guess I should have seen this one coming — there is a grim inevitability about it, isn’t there? — though I have to admit it took me by surprise. A verb “to onboard”? As in, “Let’s onboard the Communications Department before we go public with this”? And a still-uglier adjective form — something like, “We’ll hold an onboarding session for the stakeholders”? Even as my stomach turns, I find myself saying, “well, of course.”
Those who set out to cure jargon and other self-important speech take their place in a humblingly long line of earlier scolds-a lineage stretching back at least to Aristophanes-who had in their day no more success than this essay is likely to have now. The prospect of success, in fact, never seems dimmer than when one confronts American jargon’s answer to Original Sin, the perennial habit of attaching -ize to everything in sight (maximize, strategize, localize, institutionalize, prioritize, and on and on).
Submitted by Bryan Rhodes, executive assistant, Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refuges
Out-of-pocket (frequently used instead of unreachable or out of the office) as in “I will be out of pocket from 11:00am to 12:00pm.”
When I hear people say “out of pocket” instead of “out of touch,” “out of the loop,” or “unreachable,” I have always assumed they were simply making a mistake. They were, I believed, accidentally using a phrase that means “having spent my own money” — as in, “I took a business trip without getting a cash advance, and now I’m out-of-pocket $2,000, and still waiting for reimbursement.”
In 1960, when the CIA first embarked on its campaign to kill Fidel Castro, one of its first schemes involved slipping poison into el jefe’s rum-and-Coke. (They had a sense of poetry in the Eisenhower Administration; the drink is commonly known as a Cuba Libre.) To cook up an undetectable slow-acting poison, the CIA relied on an elite team of chemists from its Technical Services Division. CIA Director Allen Dulles designated this top-secret group the “Health Alteration Committee.”
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