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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  1. Something to pay taxes with.
  2. The buck stops here.


  1. The category killer that nearly did.
  2. Government’s method for coping with competition.

moral courage

Like regular courage, but preceded by a fable.


A happy way of corporatising depression and making it the responsibility of big pharma.


My right to impose my definition of right on you.


To make the lazy work hard. Never agree to have this impossible task included in your job description.

motivational speaker

Professional with a winning personality, and a fee structure to match.

motivational psychology

The study of moving forward.

moving forward

Used by managers to keep one word ahead of their colleagues, who are merely moving.


The belief that all cultures are of equal value and therefore of none.


  1. An entity with no legal or ethical responsibilities in any one country.
  2. The private sector equivalent of the United Nations, but with a better bureaucracy.


The ability to simultaneously do your job while telling people that you’re doing it.


The recognition that many other organisations are now better than your organisation at what you used to do.


  1. The disorder that promotes attention deficit hyperactivity.
  2. Insourcing.


The foundation of the management profession, undermined by comparison with real professions, such as banking, gambling and witchcraft.


Means necessity when physiological; means nothing when psychological.


The shifting mix of cooperation and competition that precedes victory by the least ethical.


Making family values pay off.


The unpleasant feeling rightly experienced by CEOs at AGMs.


Earnings after profit is taken away.


An interconnected, integrated synthesis of an holistic totality.


Accepts that 2 + 2 = 4 but can’t stand it.

‘never give up’

Perceived as tenacity by managers, intransigence by workers, stubbornness by spouses and stupidity by psychiatrists.


  1. Vehicle for the expression of personal feelings.
  2. Medium for the listing of possibilities. For instance: ‘Managers with MBAs may be more effective’, the opposite of which is also true.
  3. There is no news.


  1. Something to hit the dog with.
  2. Useful at the base of a birdcage.
  3. Wards off melanoma at the cricket, when folded into a hat.
  4. Justification for lopping unsightly trees.
  5. Old-fashioned way to train bloggers.
  6. Helpful in the separation of fish from chips.


A rut that you have come to terms with.


A smiling politician shaking your hand.

non-executive director

An executive who doesn’t work for the company he’s working for.

non-profit organisation

A profitable business entity that would be unprofitable if subjected to taxes payable by a for-profit organisation.


I disagree with you but I don’t know why.

non-viable option

Reducing managers’ salaries.


Books with almost as much pride and prejudice as management reporting.




Used by the illiterate to baffle the innumerate.


Revealing lack of initiative by unquestioningly following orders.


Something against which to measure your unattained aims.


Getting into trouble for something that you didn’t do. Or did.


Dismissing someone on the grounds of personality, irrespective of performance on or off the field.


Manager who doesn’t use consultants, coaches or mentors.

old boys’ network

Proof that life after high school is an anticlimax.

old girls’ network

Proof that life after school is climacteric.


An economic reality with virtual income and actual expenditure, resulting in real losses.


Empty-headed manager.


The part of the business that actually produces things. If it wasn’t for operations (also known as production) the finance and marketing and leadership teams would have nothing – and be nothing. Yet finance continues to be patronising by requiring operations to submit plans and targets and other irrelevant signs of submission, and marketing says that if the market doesn’t know about the firm’s output, all will be lost. In fact businesses existed for a long time with the financial trivia being done in leaders’ spare time and marketing being carried out by actually serving customers.


  1. Temporary malleable belief, available to be surrendered for one held by a superior.
  2. Something a manager gives, but never takes.


(see challenges)

opportunity cost

Opportunity lost.

optimal solution

The one where you tell most of the truth and still get to keep your job.


  1. Expecting everything to come out as expected.
  2. Excuse for laziness.

(see pessimism)


  1. The number of products or services required to create the largest profit possible using the smallest quantity of available resources.
  2. Opting to keep mum.

(see maximum)


Speaker who speaks expertly.


  1. While there is chaos theory, there is no order theory, so let’s forget it.
  2. It’s got form.


  1. A collection of disorganised individuals temporarily occupying permanent roles with transferable titles.
  2. An amoral entity responsible to unaccountable stakeholders.

organisation chart

A graphic representation of who is meant to report to whom. Straight lines show formal reporting connections between people who have no chance whatsoever of influencing each other. Dotted lines show multiple or indirect relationships between people who know that have no power over each other and therefore work together with reciprocal respect. Not all dotted lines are on the chart. For instance, the CEO’s personal assistant has more power than senior executives.

organisational behaviour

They don’t behave.

(see success)

organisational climate

Seasonally adjusted work environment that changes from minute to minute and person to person.

organisational culture

People and culture are the essences of organisations, so you must destroy both to make an impact, create a legacy and advance your career.


An American organisation. Just like a normal organisation, but with more buzzwords.


Neither this nor that.


An input on the way out.


To reduce fixed costs by increasing variable costs.


Someone else’s in-tray.


  1. The fine line between working too hard – and not hard enough.
  2. The two-hour executive breakfast; three-hour executive lunch; the four-hour executive dinner.


Self-contradictory, paradoxical two-word phrase, such as entrepreneurial management, lead manager or managerial leadership.

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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.