Doubtful definitions for throughput, synergy, customer, direction and expert

Here is a syndrome of sinful synonyms and an anthem of antacid antonyms for literally, and figuratively, a handful of management terms … and conditions. The writing is in Q&A format, to emphasise the assertion that many manager have in mind the answer prior to asking the question.


  1. What actually happens in the process of creating a service or product. Senior managers do not know how things are manufactured or created, so this useful wastepaper basket word can be applied to make them look knowledgeable
  2. The process between input and output
  3. Transformation, often on a transcendental level

Answer: 4. What you put through something.


  1. Two + two = five
  2. Marketing + finance = operations
  3. Company a + Company b = you lose your job
  4. Coal + solar = wind

Answer: 5. Only venture capitalists and lawyers make money through mergers.


  1. An annoying individual or group entity whose sole aim is to interfere with perfectly good processes, systems, products and services

Answer: 1. There is no other experience.


  1. Where we’re heading, as determined by the straight line from where we’ve been, through where we are now, and into the infinite future
  2. Something that you give, but never receive
  3. An excuse for a conference ever since some Roman said Quo vadis?

Answer: 4. Management consultants’ raison d’être … the reason for our debt.


  1. A well-credentialed and expensive person from somewhere prestigious, who says the obvious eloquently, and at great length
  2. Someone better paid than you
  3. Someone who stayed at university one degree longer than you
  4. Someone who claims to be

Answer: 4. which is self-explanatory.

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Strategists strategically strategise strategic strategy

You don’t need a ton of knowledge to play a bigger game. Here’s a tonne of keywords to help you on your way. Play buzzword bingo with 100 examples of clear gibberish, garbled gobbledygook and today’s clichés from the fantasy worlds of Strategy, Management and Leadership.

Strategy buzzword bingo

  1. alliance, big picture, brainstorming, case studies, caveat, market entry, business ethics, management fad
  2. fit, game plan, game theory, gamification, gap analysis, corporate governance, high-level, intellectual, intelligence
  3. partnering, reduction, re-purposing, restructuring, strategic (etcetera), synergy, value stream, visioning.

Management buzzword bingo

  1. benchmark, best practice, capability, catalyst, change, dotted line, downsizing, effective
  2. efficient, empowerment, environment, feedback, flexibility, granularity, heads up, high-quality
  3. infrastructure, scaffolding, insourcing, matrix, megadigm, model, multimedia, next level, offline
  4. offshoring, onshoring, org chart, org tree, outsourcing, paradigm, presenteeism, preward
  5. proactive, responsibility, results-driven, rightsizing, schadenfreude, scope creep, self-managed, shift
  6. silos, templatised, traction, transparency, values, vision, win-win, world class, global reach

Leadership buzzword bingo

  1. adhocracy, chaos, collaboration, consultation, continuous, dialogue, direction, discourse
  2. empty suit, role holder, excellence, fast track, functional, herding cats, integrated, knowledge, leverage
  3. mindset, organisation, rankism, strategic business process re-engineering, reinvention, responsive, robust, stress, thought leadership.

When you hear one buzzword too many, shout ‘Bingo!’ and go home.

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Double-talk Thesaurus

Many management definitions are doubtful, with true meaning being avoided, evaded and massaged. This is true of diplomacy, bureaucracy, the so-called Professions, politics, the non-profit sector, public administration and business. Here are some hopefully helpful clarifications, for your amusement only. No educational, motivational or inspirational benefit is claimed here. These 20 connotations are presented without cynicism, but with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  1. built to last  A product that will work perfectly well until you’re promoted.
  2. case study  A business war story written to support your management philosophy.
  3. caveat  A warning that lets you off the hook.
  4. challenge  Problem.
  5. chaos  What will result if you don’t do it my way.
  6. cliché  Jargon used by somebody else.
  7. collaboration  You doing what I tell you to do, in a timely fashion.
  8. committee  A group of expendable employees whose role is to act as a collective scapegoat.
  9. consultant  A highly educated unemployed person continually attending paid job interviews.
  10. decision  A choice made sometime in the future or in the past, by someone else, based on false assumptions.
  11. defenestration  The assertion, held as true by Apple aficionados, cognoscenti and devotees, that without Microsoft everything would be better.
  12. demystification  The belief that all beliefs are better if explained, except the belief in demystification, the disbelief of which must by suspended.
  13. dialogue  Listen to me and nod if you agree.
  14. downsizing  Sacking people with linguistic sensitivity.
  15. e-commerce  A form of value-creation in a fantasy world, where the usual economic measures do not apply.
  16. effective  Making things actually happen.
  17. efficient  Making things happen quickly, even if they don’t work.
  18. error-free  A claim made by software developers to show that they have a sense of humour.
  19. fad  Someone else’s favourite management theory, explanation, system, possibility, law or abstract structure.
  20. feedback  A way of burying complaints, like a suggestion box over a garbage bin.

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Leadership: putting the loose into lucid

Here’s a short list of definitive definitions of the word, concept and idea of Leadership.

The answer is arbitrary, and sometimes the correct answer is ‘Any of the above’.

Leadership is:

  1. What a leader does. And a leader is someone who shows leadership. Only a true leader can see this apparent paradox as truth, neo-truth, hyper-truth, truthy, or post-truth. The corollary of this statement is that if you think that this reasoning is circular, annular, radial or circumlocutory, then you’ll never make into to top management, mahogany row or the C-suite.
  2. Huh?

The answer is 1.

If you’re not confused, then you really don’t understand what’s going on.

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Excuses for being back late from lunch

Top tips for justifying the unbelievable, and keeping your job after committing a minor misdemeanor:

  1. You think that the deal is pretty well sealed now that you’ve wined-and-dined the prospective client.
  2. You were covertly listening to your major competitor’s CEO – who was leading a strategy retreat at the same coffee shop – and you felt that industrial espionage was a higher priority than punctuality.
  3. You were stuck in an elevator, or in a traffic jam, or in a queue at the post office, or you were at the bank and it was held up and the police had to interview you.
  4. A fire alarm went off at your last appointment before lunch, and you were legally required to hang around for a head count.
  5. You were prepping for the blue sky/brainstorming afternoon seminar, by pre-loading with alcohol, caffeine, protein, sugar and other stimulants.

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