We continue the episodic publication of The Management Contradictionary (Benjamin Marks, Rodney Marks, and Robert Spillane. Michelle Anderson Publishing: Melbourne).

It’s available in all good libraries, and quite a few bad ones, too. The book is in alphabetical order, so feel free to keep reading the blog posts – past, present and future – from eh? to zzz.

The Management Contradictionary defines the real meaning behind management terms.

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Comes between managing director and manual worker.

manual worker

Someone who can see the effect of his labour, usually derided by insecure workers who can’t.


The straight and narrow. See far left and far right, on this and other pages.

marginal cost

The cost of giving all workers a new ruler.

marginal utility

A ute in a ditch.

market economy

The market is the economy.

market research

An activity based on the false assumption that people will tell you what they will buy before they do, or that they even know what that would be.

market value

The fallacious belief that an agreed price can be determined before sale. It is the simultaneous denial and admission that the market value is what it is and cannot be known until then. Only through demonstrated preference can preference be demonstrated.


Matching impossible market wants and needs with unlikely organisational capability and capacity.


Someone who dies for an undying truth.


The belief that all individuals, other than Karl Marx, are unimportant.

mass education

Training for taxi drivers.


When idealism doesn’t matter.


A way of making words look like numbers; particularly useful if you are trying to hide data.


When a market or product cycle is more grown up than any producer or consumer in it.


  1. The largest number possible using available resources, irrespective of profitability.
  1. A large maternal figure.

(see optimum)


  1. Mistaken Business Acumen, or Married But Available, or Mind-Blowing Asset.
  2. The misstep between BBA and DBA.


Like Management By Wandering About – but more widespread.


Public I.


Transforming managerial behaviour into take-home pay.


Unqualified qualifications awarded as receipts for membership dues.


A form of occupational group therapy, whose purpose is to console people who cannot solve a particular problem alone by proving that no one else can either.


  1. The daily play of characters in the business pages, with managing director heroes being pursued by regulator villains, with industry associations cheering and trade unions booing from the sidelines.
  2. Vice versa.


What managers lose when giving evidence before (but not after) government commissions.

mental disorder

Condition of someone found in the management section of bookshops.


Someone who meant well.


To gossip nostalgically.


  1. Euphemism for acquisition.
  2. When wedlock becomes deadlock.
  3. When deadlock becomes wedlock.
  4. The period prior to de-merger.

(also see synergy)


  1. A figure of speech in a manner of speaking.
  2. Like a simile.


Sub-editors who go above and beyond.


A system without a cycle.


Economic fine print.

midlife crisis

Panic-stricken realisation that you have not become what you wanted to be, and that you don’t won’t to be that person anymore.


  1. Manager with a large mortgage and three divorces.
  2. House-owner with neither a mortgage nor a divorce.


Mythical entity with free will that replaces the soul as the spiritual centre of the individual. A bucket for thoughts, feelings, emotions, values, beliefs and memories. Source of peculiar, unconscionable, undiagnosable illnesses, diagnosed by corporate psychiatrists and industrial psychologists.


A work of fiction. The history of a meeting from the viewpoint of the minute-taker; the secretary of a meeting is therefore the most powerful person there.

misbehavioural science

The science of labelling employees who are misbehaving as having ‘inappropriate behaviour’, when they’re really just being naughty; a pseudoscience whose practitioners believe that the facts of misbehaviour are wrong.


Assorted sundry heterogeneous items that would be misplaced elsewhere.

mission statement

The aims of an organisation and what sort of service it intends to provide: both pugnacious and spiritual.


Made by managers due to information provided by subordinates; made by workers due to irrationality.


  1. The collective noun for many kangaroos.
  2. The collective noun for many Australian lawyers.
  3. The collective noun for many kangaroo courts.


A theoretical construct which is meant to represent a slice of reality. There is no model of reality as a whole. All the pieces add up to contradictory realities. The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts, it is just that the elements are not contextualised and the whole created from them doesn’t look like any component part. The main beneficiaries of models are the model makers, who, unless they are in the theatrical special effects business, may be management consultants,       economists, strategists, policy analysts, planners or pretenders.

modus operandi

Roman management style.


Employee having a friendly chat about colleagues with the organisational psychologist.

monetary policy

Determining that a dollar is worth 100 cents.

(see fiscal policy, which disputes the math, and the maths, and the arithmetic that makes one the other)

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Rodney Marks

I’m an Australian corporate comedian, performing comic hoaxes at business events. If you like these blogs, you’ll like my live comedy. If you don’t like these blogs, you still might like my live comedy.

Add comedian.com.au to your bookmarks, and one day: book Marks. I don’t do cheap jokes, and I’m freer than you think. I’m comical not anatomical, economical not astronomical.

For more info – and to contact me directly – see my LinkedIn profile, and website: www.comedian.com.au. I’m based in Sydney and travel widely.