Business English: Let’s ban Management Speak

Read the text about banning management speak. Some management speak phrases are highlighted and explained below. Don’t forget to answer the discussion questions that appear after the vocabulary glossary.

We all know people who use ‘management speak’ and many of us even use it ourselves. It has become part of everyday business life here in the UK. Nevertheless, there are some phrases that really annoy members of staff. Let’s take a look at some of the main offenders:

Let’s touch base at the end of the week
This sounds like it’s about baseball but actually it’s an invitation to have a catch-up conversation or meeting. Modern managers even say “let’s touch base offline” which refers to a F2F meeting as opposed to a virtual meeting.

360-degree thinking
Where once we used to ‘think outside the box’, now we utilise ‘360-degree thinking’. It doesn’t actually refer to turning round in a circle but to taking a wider perspective into consideration. For instance, looking at customers past, present and future behaviour.

We used to get asked to give 100% but now it has increased by 10. Although this is numerically impossible it implies that we should give an extra something or ‘go the extra mile’ as some managers say. This has also led to 120%, 200% and so on.

The strategic staircase
Even if you take the lift to your office you can’t avoid the strategic staircase. In fact, if you want a pay raise, a promotion or just want to work your way up, this is how you do it. The strategic part refers to your own method whether it be by hard work or making contacts.

According to management gurus we no longer talk or converse with each other in companies now. Instead we conversate and so you may hear people say that they have been “conversating all day”.

Idea showers
When managers and staff need some new ideas they now take showers together. These ‘idea showers’ are what we used to refer to as brainstorming and don’t actually involve any water. They are an opportunity to come up with and toss around quick ideas about a specific issue or problem.


Management speak phrases

Everyday business life
Average working days in companies
Main offenders
The prime culprits
A catch-up conversation
When someone needs to find out what has been happening while they were away
F2F meeting
A physical meeting (face-to-face)
A virtual meeting
A meeting online using web cameras
Think outside the box
To solve a problem in a creative way
Go the extra mile
To do more than is required
To work your way up
To advance in your career
Management gurus
Famous management leaders/teachers
To come up with sthg
To create something e.g. an idea
To toss sthg around
To share and discuss


Discussion questions

  1. What is your opinion about ‘management speak’?
  2. Which phrases do you dislike? Why?
  3. What other ‘management speak’ phrases do you know?


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