Business First | Management-speak that should be banned from the…

Management-speak that should be banned from the office

11 Aug 2017 –– Tips & Advice

When you think management-speak, you think David Brent. Everyone loves David Brent, The Office is cringe-inducingly hilarious.

Mainly because every adult who has ever worked in an office can relate to David Brent's complete mastery of management-speak, it's brilliant. It's brilliant because although it mirrors reality so well, it's not real and it really is funny.

However, in real life, in real offices, no-one likes management-speak or marketing jargon. At least, no-one should. And here at Business First, since our aim is to be the most transparent, honest provider of office space that there is, we’re particularly averse to it.

So, when I received an email, earlier this week, that was simply crammed with the stuff, it got me thinking: what are the worst, most prolifically used management buzz-words out there? I then, obviously, decided to write a blog about it, because I’m assuming, that just like our office can be, your office is sometimes a hot-bed (there’s one!) for these heinous terms, too.

So, with no further ado, my least favourite management-speak terms, used in the workplace, from start-ups to corporations…

Reach out*

This one is probably not the most irritating that is on this list, however, it is the first. Simply because the email I received that incited this blog opened with the line…

“Dear David,

“I’m reaching out to you…”

Now, my question is this: why? Honestly, what is wrong with the word ‘contact’? It exists for a reason. That reason being, to define the act of reaching out to speak with someone. So why use two words, that evoke cheesy love song imagery, when you can use one instead. Thankfully, this is one that I’ve never heard in my office, but this email wasn’t the only culprit when it comes to people I’ve heard it from.

Needless to say, I haven’t yet deigned to respond to the unsolicited email in question.

*I’m including the term touch base in this point, as well.


A word that can be traced to Silicon Valley and the early naughties start-ups, like Facebook, that changed the face of business in their particular fields.

Once, this word may have had some credence when used. No more. Every start-up in the world seems to label itself as disruptive. Leaving me thinking two things: they can’t all be, and; if - by some barely credible stretch of the imagination - they all are, it’s no longer disruptive to be disruptive, anyway.

Paradigm shift

A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.

The term was first coined by the American Philosopher, Thomas Kuhn, in his seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the term was used to articulate something which eclipses that which came before.

Now, granted, since being adopted by management and marketing gurus (we’ll come to this) the term, in essence, means the same thing. But for the sheer melodrama of using it in such an arbitrary context, this has to make it on to the list!


In pan-Indian tradition, the term guru denotes someone who is more than just a teacher. It, in fact, refers reverentially to an individual who is respected and esteemed by the student. The guru serves not only as a teacher of literal knowledge, but also (and perhaps more so) as a counsellor, who shares experience, helps to mould values and is an exemplar in life and the way it is lived. A true guru is all this, and an inspirational source who helps a student attain spiritual enlightenment, as well.

So, the word guru makes it on to this list for two reasons.

First of all, to apply the above to a chap who strolls into your office as if he owns the place, whilst wearing brogues, chinos and a blazer; often with an overly moussed, slick-back haircut, is tantamount to blasphemy.

Secondly, these types are almost always self-proclaimed. And even those who have never referred directly to themselves as gurus seem to be completely happy for the term to be used to describe them by others. This level of waffle and self-importance is just offensive.

If you want anything done, don't ever let a marketing guru into your office.

Blue sky thinking

This is probably my favourite (least favourite) on this list. It is utter codswallop.

Meant to mean creative thinking, unfettered by convention, reality or contemporary beliefs, I have to say, I have never seen a good idea preceded by this term.

It is possibly the least creative, most pretentious way of appearing to be creative when one is, in fact, far from it.

Ban it from the office.

Fit for purpose

All this means is that something does what it’s supposed to. So just say that.

This exudes similar levels of office pomposity to blue-sky thinking.

Think outside the box

In a similar vein to blue-sky thinking, this is almost meaningless.

I’m thinking outside the box, here, has never, in my experience, preceded a good idea. Nor has it ever elicited the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ that one assumes the user is expecting to receive.

This term should not only be kept out of the office, but it should also just be consigned to the annals of history and never heard again.


Mentors are generally middle aged white men who meander around start-up incubators (consider this an honorary appearance on the list for start-up incubator) spewing forth tired anecdotes and terms (both on this list and otherwise) that no-one should ever utter.

They tend to be about as useful as chocolate fireguards and barely capable of organising the proverbial drinking sessions.

As if that wasn’t enough, they are often self-proclaimed gurus, as well.

Enough said.

Honorary mentions

I have neither the time nor the inclination, to write a full synopsis of the whys of each item that should appear on this list, however, there are some that simply had to get a shout out.

Thought grenade

Low hanging fruit





Thought shower

Ballpark figure


Elevator pitch

Pitch deck

That brings me to the end of this veritable who’s who of management-speak terms to avoid. The list is by no means exhaustive, (I can only apologise to those terms that have been missed off this list, maybe you'll make it on next time) but it has been exhausting.

If you, like me, are sick of this sort of terminology and happen to also be looking for new office space in Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Glasgow, Liverpool, Padiham or Preston then drop us a call or email your closest centre manager, today. We promise that we won’t use any buzzwords, and we’ll never be anything but totally honest with you. Our business centres are pretty impressive, too.

Finally, if you fancy having a laugh at the expense of management-speak, then check out this cool little toy I found. It’ll provide entire minutes of fun for you and your office colleagues.