12 Workplace Phrases You Probably Don’t Know…But Should

I hear these all the time. It's nice to have someone level set on the definition. Do members have any we should add to this list?

"Boil the Ocean: This scope is too big to do in one project. Break it up into more than one. We often hear, "We’re not trying to boil the ocean here. We just need to…" when the client is trying to keep costs down and avoid an overly ambitious project scope.

Drink the Kool-Aid: To enthusiastically perform a task or follow a leader without knowing how this may affect you, or to buy the "company line" without question. In business, you may hear someone say, "He drank the Kool-Aid," when they mean, "He has been thoroughly trained in the program and we have his unconditional support," or "He is on board with our strategy." In political commentary, it is used to imply that people who disagree with you have been brainwashed or are under the influence of drugs.

Going Native: This is what happens when a consultant stops acting like a consultant and starts thinking they are part of the client organization. If you aren’t willing to go somewhere else, go ahead and apply for a permanent job. You aren’t providing the same value you were in the beginning.

Greenfield Instance: Clean, new installation of an application without customizations, configuration, or data.

Holistic: A big picture view or a solution that includes upstream and downstream impacts. Whatever it means, it’s a great consulting word and we use it a lot.

Paradigm: The perspective or view you have of a situation. For example, "When ownership of our order fulfillment project moved from Operations to Sales, it caused a paradigm shift that resulted in a whole new project strategy and approach."

Running in parallel: Processing normal operating data through two systems simultaneously to compare performance and output. When a client is feeling particularly paranoid about a new system his consultants have developed or implemented, even after exhaustive testing and training, we sometimes recommend running the new system in parallel with the old for a short period.

Strawman: First draft of a solution or proposal intended to provoke discussion. It is an object, document, person, or argument that temporarily stands in for, and is intended to get "knocked down," by something more substantial.

Talking to the Dog: Thinking it through by talking it through out loud. You’ll often hear engineers and programmers say they finally solved a problem by "talking to the dog."

Use Case: A particular circumstance or situation in which the solution would be used. For example, when designing a system, the engineer will refer to all the "Use Cases" that have been documented to determine if his solution will be effective in each situation.

White paper: An authoritative report or guide published to share technical or business information, particularly related to solving common problems. Writing white papers is a great way for consultants to get exposure in their industry and develop a reputation for expertise.

Wireframe: Simple pictures that show a proposed user interface, often used by business analysts to communicate expectations to users and developers."


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