Thursday, 29 March 2007

Thinking out of the box?

A colleague of mine today said something about "thinking outside the box"... and I replied that was just so cliché. That little episode also set me thinking. We seem to be in a culture where we unknowingly bring all these business clichés into our daily conversation.

Robert Trigaux of the Times Business Columnist wrote this his article "Cliche cachet":
Business-speak is full of jargon, buzzwords, meaningless phrases pretending to be English and cliches.

Business clichés are proliferating, despite growing attempts to speak and write plain English. Part of the problem is the technology boom, which not only has multiplied tech jargon but allowed it to spread to the general business arena.

Interesting thoughts. In other words, we are bringing all these business clichés into our daily lives and we can blame that to the advancement of technology.... How's that for "being in the loop" of technological advancement in human history, or are we to find the excuse of simply "joining the party" because everyone's using clichés like "Nobody's business"?

The question that springs to my mind immediately is how do phrases like "Thinking out of the box" come about? What's thinking outside the box got to do with creativity? What box? Who put us into one? Is the box square, triangular or round? I certainly don't have the answer.

Ok, lets do a quick "brain dump" and lets see how many common business clichés we can come up with, and perhaps some of you can "fill in the gaps":

  1. At the end of the day . . .(it's when I go to sleep)

  2. it's not rocket science (then what is it? computer science?)

  3. ballpark figures (would that be baseball or football park figures?)

  4. touch base

  5. 24/7 (that's 3.4285714285714285714285714285714 or 168?)

  6. Taking it to the next level (Are we playing games?)

  7. socializing the idea (I rather socialise with real people)

  8. caught between a rock and a hard place (a rock is a hard place!)

  9. singing from the same hymn book (now are we good Christians?)

  10. at this moment in time (what happen if there is a time warp?)

  11. moving the goal-posts (obviously you haven't seen AFL)

  12. the fact of the matter is... (a matter contains an atom, electrons, neutrons and protons)

  13. put all in one basket(are we off to the market now?)

  14. the bottom line (is where we put our footer information like the page number)

  15. blue-sky figures (are there red, orange, purple, silver skies figures too?)

  16. a problem raises its ugly head (are we dealing with an ogre now?)

I'm sure there are many more interesting ones. I just can't think anymore at the moment because I am working with "limited capacity". Too jaded "at the close of business" day to make my brain work "effectively, efficiently and productively".

The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day there is nothing, like, value-added about using cliches 24/7 -- with all due respect, it's not just awesome, but it is at the moment in time, a fad, a fashion statement. The bottome line is that utilising and socialising with these mumbo-jumbo terms in your daily business dealings is like making you intelligent or something, and making you sound like you know what you are talking about.

I "bet my ass off" that you will be able to "dig out a few more" good ones too. Remember, just think outside the box! You can always try some "brain storming"!


Anonymous said...

haha. very funny, and quite observant.

There is also a view that there exists a non-physical darwinian evolution of our mental abilities. e.g. the 'selfish gene' theory.

Maybe our use of sayings like this is a way to make 'our way of business' the domiant one....


Seng said...

Ha ha - a classic post AL. I deplore such "businessisms" because they don't mean anything. Some of my faves, which I have heard at meetings, being:

- In the fullness of time (err... what does this mean?)
- All things being equal (they're not!)
- Get us over the line (is it a race?)

It is interesting in that many of these idioms are drawn from competitive sports, and some even from the military. It must say something about the business world.

Have you read the book Weasel words?