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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 12:25 GMT
Let's help to herd the dinosaurs
By Claire Heald
BBC News Magazine

Sunset in London
The staff's signal to get their coat
Office jargon: loved by bosses but increasingly hated by staff. In a mood of revenge, Magazine readers suggest their own versions of twisted phrases to baffle the bosses.

Enough with all this blue sky thinking in the workplace.

Not just because the phrase is yet another example of meaningless office twaddle. But because it is time for some red sky thinking, the signal, in these darkening autumn days, that it is nearly time to go home.

Achieving it is dependent on a bit of horizoning - not quite the same as predicting the company's future performance, more staring out of the window, according to one Magazine reader, Stig.

In other offices, that may be commonly known as workspace-specific perceptual abstraction, or daydreaming. At James Dignan's office, his workmates also try to get away with non-specific interfacing or needless chat. Staff might like to try some activity deficit substitution, aka looking busy.

Come tea break time, if Dickie in New York worked on this side of the pond, he would find himself falling foul of the discrimination laws. But in his office, staff boldly take part in crumpeting, checking out their youngish tea lady.

HOW TO TALK THE TALK
Sprouting: Generating ideas on a greener workplace
Raise the bar on this: Leave for the pub
Expectation management: What the boss wants to hear
Metime: Out of office time
Going tarso-mandibular: Putting your foot in your mouth

Better perhaps to stick to inter-departmental liaison facilitation or asking your friends out to lunch.

Among colleagues on flexible hours, putting in some serious facetime is essential. That peculiar part of the day when you have completed all of your work, but have to stay around to show your face.

Some of that can be filled with a company slash, suggests Andy in Plymouth - the five minutes just before the end of the day when you can take a paid comfort break.

Inspiration also comes from the workers who take care of the workers. Ever reported a picnic error to the IT helpdesk? No? Well they're logging them. It stands for a problem in chair, not in computer error among hapless colleagues.

Promotion beyond your means is a fruitful bug bear for jargon. A polidiot is someone promoted beyond their abilities thanks to their political skills.

Scene from The Office
How to manage expectation?

How to spot them? Well, they will be the ones testiculating - waving their arms around while talking nonsense. Often supported by a backing singer, that familiar person in a meeting who doesn't contribute their own ideas but just nods along with the boss.

Full-blown sarcasm and workplace resentment are a heady cocktail for some evidently long-suffering employees.

Nick W, dryly suggests new jargon definitions for his bosses: decision - the art of choosing between options without asking someone; responsibility - used with the above - and listening - if someone says it can't be done, there's a reason.

But spare a thought for Valerie; hard at work, but baffled. At her office, the mission is to herd the dinosaurs to the right end of the cricket green.

What does it mean? She has no idea.


Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

In our company we are experiencing a "descending flightpath of headcount". Which means we are losing our jobs because of the large number of consultants employed to think up twaddle like that.
David, Liverpool

"Herd the dinosaurs?" That's to get the deadwood to get out of the way and let the a-streamers get on with doing the real work..
Si, London

We have a redundancy programme which has to be given a euphemism to do away with negative connotations. This was renamed "workforce reduction" (WFR). We have made a verb of this and discuss people who need to be "WooFeRed"
G C MacNaughton, Brussels

Sexagesimal theorising = watching the office clock.
Flegg Dupree, UK < Three recent examples of jargonese heard recently: We're sunsetting that idea right now (i.e. killing it); the juice ain't worth the squeeze (a low return on an investment) and refocused out of the organisation (fired)
David Hook, Frankfurt, Germany

I personally have a seagull manager: he flies in, makes a lot of noise, dumps on everything, and then flies out again. Plus an Einstein co-worker: he knows everything, everyone is aware of his theories, but no-one truly understands what they mean.
Peter, Birmingham, UK

Every so often, those of us 'managed' by this kind of tosh come up with the idea of inventing fake management words and timing how long before they start really speaking it - it's never more than three days. Can anyone beat getting 'Brand Surgery' from spoof management-speak to a real item on a manager's agenda by the afternoon??
Peter Green, London

Blame storming - meeting held with the purpose of finding someone to blame.
Ian H, Manchester

My boss desperately tries to use these in as many meetings as possible but gets horribly mixed up; rather than piggy-backing on a project, we were asked to "hobby-horse" on it.
Nial, Belfast

In a call centre that I worked at "Get it, get off it, get on with it!" meant understand you're wrong, stop sulking and continue with the task you're meant to be doing". I'm so glad to be out of all that nonsenseż Now all I have to do is master Swedish. It's easier.
Jim, Skellefteċ, Sweden (Ex UK)

Many of these jargon-loving managers sadly experience a bi-manual auto-proctology deficit - an unfortunate state of affairs in which they seem to be unable to find their own behinds with both hands.
Steve D, Reading

Some years ago I managed to get my boss to say: "Let's get our hymn books in a row and make sure we are singing from the same duck". I won £1 from everybody at the meeting.
Chris C, Bath

What about a non-awareness period - a nap?
M. McCann, Maldon, Essex, UK.

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