September and October are nearly always the busiest times of year at work for me – it’s seemingly when all worlds collide. There is the year to close out, revenue goals to be met, big presentation projects that are due, client visits to make, projects to concoct and strategies for the following year to write – and it all seems to hit at the same time. Consequently, I’ve been finding myself sitting at a whole lot of meetings. It’s always around this time of year that I take note of some of the strange lingo that pops up around these conversations – I’ve been long enough at my firm where I’m no longer which ones generally apply to the private sector, to the consulting sector, or possibly just to my firm, which is known for a vocabulary all it’s own.
In the past week, I’ve been keeping note of some of my favorite quirky expressions that you resist at first, and then somehow end up using, usually in your own life whereby then you yourself end up looking like the nut. Here’s a glossary to my day job:
1. “Pull-up” – meeting to discuss the state of affairs, as in “let’s pull up about this later this week” or “did you get a chance to pull up with him already?”
2. “Play in this space” – is this a good fit for us or the right opportunity for us, as in “I don’t think we should be playing in this space, there are so many competitors”.
3. “Lean in” – help out, usually in the context of needing some kind of above and beyond effort. Also, sometimes a euphemism for stay late/work weekends. As in “in this uncertain economy, we’re all going to have to lean in to get the results we need.”
4. “Hold hands”- get coordinated and agreed in a smaller group before you move on to the next layer – as in, “let’s pull up and make sure we’re holding hands around this initiative before Tuesday’s board meeting.”
5. “Pour bodies” – add people to something, as in “we’re really going to have to pour some bodies on this if we’re going to play in this space”.
6. “Offset through elbow grease” – sometimes a synonym to lean in, euphemism for staying late or doing more work due to a shortage elsewhere, as in “Our IT team is booked and two people are on leave so we’re just going to have to offset that through elbow grease to get this up by Tuesday.”
7. “Table” – some type of group or team that is sitting around a table, as in “We know that this is going to require more input before we pour bodies on it so this won’t be for this table to decide.”
8. “Kit it up” – put it together in a package that can be sold, communicated, etc, as in, “We’re going to need a brochure and an FAQ in addition to what we already have, let’s go ahead and kit it up”.
9. “Listening tour” – going around to get different people’s inputs, as in “I learned that we have a real problem with supply through multiple people on the listening tour.”
10. “Do the disney” – create offshoot products, i.e. when Disney releases a movie, there is the movie, the sequel, the toys, the t-shirts, the licensing, etc – “People really loved that product, if we did the disney around it, what could we create?”
11. “Put on your ______ hat” – think differently from how you normally have to, as in “Well this solution would be the best for my team but if I put on my firm hat for a moment, we should probably do it the other way.”
12. “Turn the dial” – get something moving, get it to a result faster, as in “If we kit this up appropriately, we could really turn the dial on some results before the end of the year.”
13. “Tiger team” – honestly, I haven’t figured this one out fully since I’ve heard people use it in different contexts and I’m not sure they are all correct, but it sounds effective. From what I can tell is that it means put a small, lean but effective group of people on something to either get results or diagnose a problem. As in, “Jack, Jill, and Pail are leaning in to head up the tiger team for the expansion initiative.”
14. “Critical path” – basically, is this most important for whatever constraints you have? This one cracks up diplo-husband so much that we’ve started using this one at home and just abbreviated it to “CP” – as in, “It’s really not critical path that we stop by JCrew on our way home.”
15. Dropping the subject – this is not a phrase but more of a speaking style. I’ve noticed for years that people have been dropping subjects from their conversations and voicemails, as in “Hi Bob, ABC calling from XYZ. Calling to chat with you about turning the dial on 123 projects. Was hoping that we could pull up and hold hands before heading to the tiger team table to talk about how we can put on the reseach hat and play in this space. Will shoot you an email before kitting up the presentation, since that’s critical path for us before pouring any more bodies on it. Chat soon.”
Photo via Panel Install.