Are you interested in baking someone into a process at work? Leading a paradigm shift? Or maybe you just feel like drilling down after a nice data dump so you can flesh out a straw dog to help everyone get their ducks in a row and sing from the same song-sheet. Whether you understood any of that or had no idea what you just read, you’ve probably heard these expressions lobbed around the corporate world with some regularity. What does all of this mean? In meetings on his first job out of college, James Sudakow found himself struggling to pick up a bizarre new language: corporate-speak. He pretended to know what they were saying, but in actuality, he had no idea what expressions like “singing from the same song sheet” or “picking the low hanging fruit” meant or why strange phrases like these were being used to talk about business operations. Had he missed something important in his education that would have prepared him for this? With time, Sudakow adapted to the language; and much to his own embarrassment, he found himself actually using many of these same expressions. For his own sanity, he came up with a plan to combat this corporate-speak language – and it all started with a whiteboard in his office. He listed all of the words and phrases his colleagues, even superiors, were not allowed to use in his office – less they allowed themselves to be subjected to some form of office hazing. “I wondered if we all knew how ridiculous we sounded using these generally weird phrases, instead of just speaking in plain English.” Sudakow says.”I wanted to call attention to the way we were all communicating and see if we could change it.” Ironically, not only did his experiment not deter their use of any of the expressions on his whiteboard, Sudakow found that his colleagues put up with the hazing with seemingly far too much enjoyment and also began to actually, if not enthusiastically, add additional phrases to his whiteboard, taking great pride in their contributions. That whiteboard became the premise for his new book, “Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit… and Other Stupid Stuff We Say in the Corporate World”, a humorous corporate glossary that sheds an irreverent light on the weird things we say in the corporate world every day.
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