How to Succeed in Business

May10, 2015

It has been said that students sometimes don’t get the nature of academic writing. Ha ha ha…it is to make pedagogical humoricity sounds! What they really need to know as they immigrate to the world of business, be it a manufacturing conglomerate or a pizza franchise, are some of these terms that mark you as a savvy cube-mate.  So, as the school year ends and the world of work looms, we present:

Corporate Lingo You Need to Be in the Know (so to speak)

“drinking from the fire hose” ― refers to a newcomer to a company being deluged with info or someone taking on a challenging new role, as in “I’d like to see your plan for solving world hunger…by next week.”

“onboarding” ― bringing someone new into the company or a department. This is actually in formal use in some HR departments, as in this item from an actual job description: “facilitates the onboarding process.” Also found in the webcast class, IN112, description: “an onboarding program for new freshman designed to provide them with the academic tools necessary to succeed.”

“out of pocket” ― not in the office for a period of time, possibly due to vacation or travel (therefore may not be available for immediate responses to queries). “I’ll be out of pocket next week but you can get the info you need from so-and-so if you need.” The term is actually pretty useful as it is unspecific as to whether the person is on business travel, personal travel, taking a few sick days, working from home–all you need to know is that you can’t get ahold of them.

“eye chart” ― a very “busy” Excel or PowerPoint presentation, though it could just beyechart-quentin-reve a complicated graph with tables of numbers, usually shown by an engineer, that is self-admittedly hard-to-read. “This is kind of an eye-chart but there are some data points that I’d like to call your attention to…”

“brain dump” ― a casual report to a group by someone who has been asked to just “dump” the data or results of some situation, recognizing that there hasn’t been time to make it a formal, organized presentation. “I just got back from a conference with all the alphabet groups and wanted to give you a brain dump so you have a heads up on this before I make my formal report.”


“alphabet groups” ― shorthand for the variety of agencies and regulatory authorities, typically in the aerospace industry, that may be involved in a meeting or decision, such as FAA, RTCA, DOD, EASA, NASA, ICAO, ALPA, IFALPA, AOPA, GAMA,  etc.  “We’ll make our final report once we hear from some of the alphabet groups.”

“ping” (verb) ― to contact someone informally or casually as a way of reminding them of something or otherwise touching base. “I’ll ping so-and-so to see if she got any input from her SMEs.”

“SME” – Subject Matter Expert. Not necessarily the boss, the supervisor or the manager―just the person who can give you the facts, ma’am.

on the other hand, we have the…

“bad actor” ― troublemaker, either a person or a device.  The term can be traced back to 1901―originally an unruly, turbulent, or contentious individual―but in manufacturing industries, it refers to a unit that has habitually failed despite repeated attempts to repair and is essentially written off as irreparable or not worth repairing.

and then there’s the happy…

“short timer” ― someone who has announced retirement or plans to leave the company. The implication is that you may not want to build a long-term plan around the person. Generally used in a positive way and can be uttered in the presence of the person. “Joe’s a short-timer so make sure you tie-out with whoever his replacement is.”

“tie-out” ― basically a replacement for “follow-up,” as in “I will tie-out with so-and-so and let you know.”

“bleed all over it” ― casual phrase used by engineers and others with no pretensions to fancy-schmancy writing skills for “Go ahead and mark this up to fixing any Grammatical errors and unnecessary Capitalizations.” Presumably the “blood” is the editor’s red ink.

“deck” ― PowerPoint presentation, as in “I’ve got a deck that I’ll be showing at the meeting.”

“housekeeping” ― meeting organization details: when the next meeting is, who’s missing, what the time schedule is and especially where lunch will be held.

So, job-seekers, forget about those MLA in-text citations, rubrics, “transfer articulations”1 and “spatial spending”2 and get with the real jargon you’ll need.

1  actual phrase from a college email
2  another actual phrase from a college email.



One comment on “How to Succeed in Business

  1. charleycrews says:

    Soooo glad to be out of that environment (I was actually a SME for workers’ comp).

    USING BCC SECURITY PROTOCOL: (If you forward this correspondence, PLEASE delete the forwarding history which includes my e-Mail address. It is a courtesy to me and others who may not wish to have their email addresses sent all over the world. Deleting the history helps prevent Spammers from mining addresses and also prevents viruses from being propagated. Thank you.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s