50 Business Clichés to Avoid Overusing in Business School

Beth Parks
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    Every profession has its lexicon, and it is unavoidable to resort to the jargon of your concentration. Still, when words and phrases are overused, they lose their meaning, and may have the undesired side-effect of making the user look like a dilettante. Some of the top offenders that are used too often in top MBA business schools are defined follow:

    #1 Everything 2.0

    Synonymous with “new and “improved,” this phrase, like the technology it refers to, is outdated.

    #2 Challenge

    Problems, goals, assignments, and obstacles now fall under this blanket term.

    #3 Due Diligence

    This assignment requires research. And work. You should do the work.

    #4 The Elephant/800 Pound Gorilla in the Room

    The thing no one wants to talk about, except they’re talking about it.

    #5 Pre-prepare

    The first “pre” should be sufficient to denote that it is done ahead of time.

    #6 Thinking Outside the Box

    If you’re using this phrase, you are thinking within the box.

    #7 At the End of the Day

    Often used to get the last word, this phrase is just used up. Give it a rest.

    #8 Paradigm Shift

    Simply, “a major change,” this phrase is vague and may indicate the user’s failure to understand that change.

    #9 Last one to the Party

    Everyone but you knows about something.

    #10 Anything On Steroids

    It’s doing well, although it may have anger issues.

    #11 Leverage

    As a verb, it means “improve,” “encourage,” or “strengthen.” Try one of those.

    #12 Data-Driven

    Facts are important.

    #13 Win-Win

    Everyone benefits, except your audience.

    #14 Move the Needle

    Generate excitement.

    #15 Wrap One’s Head Around

    One understands, or needs to understand, a complicated issue.

    #16 ROI (Return on Investment)

    Throw this one out there to show your grasp on accounting.

    #17 Raise the Bar

    Improve your standards.

    #18 Get Boots on the Ground

    Begin working, quickly.

    #19 All Hands on Deck

    Everyone must begin working.

    #20 Housekeeping

    The mundane portion of the meeting/ logistics.

    #21 Synergy

    Indicates a sum greater than its parts, and a speaker trying to sound informed.

    #22 Dynamic

    Constantly changing might be a negative attribute.

    #23 Moving Forward

    Until time travel is invented, there is no other way to move.

    #24 Agent of Change

    Don’t claim to be one if you’re using this term.
    #25 Anything-ize
    Tacking –ize on the end of a verb sounds business savvy.

    #26 A Perfect Storm

    This is used to dodge responsibility for a disaster.

    #27 Hold Your Nose

    Prepare to do something unpleasant.

    #28 Put Lipstick on a Pig

    See #27

    #29 Results-Oriented

    Every action is results-oriented.

    #30 Proactive

    Seemingly superior to “retroactive” or “inactive.”

    #31 Core Competency

    The things you are good at.

    #32 Long View

    Consider the consequences of your decisions.

    #33 360-Degree Thinking

    If you read this literally, it implies you end up exactly where you started.

    #34 Expectation Management

    Don’t get your hopes up.

    #35 Your Two Cents

    If your thoughts aren’t worth more than that, keep them to yourself.

    #36 Broken Record

    Another outdated technology reference.

    #37 Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

    There can only be one boss.

    #38 Viral

    Spreading quickly, like a disease.

    #39 Eat Your Own Dog Food

    Get about some unpleasant business—you might want to hold your nose.

    #40 Value Added

    Exceeding expectations

    #41 Saleable

    Marketable or profitable, proof that ending any word with –able makes you sound capable.

    #42 Impactful

    Having an impact, this word is a recent invention.

    #43 Push Back/Blow Back


    #44 Level the Playing Field

    This doesn’t happen in any sport.

    #45 Drop Back and Punt

    Start over from the beginning.

    #46 Thrown Under the Bus


    #47 Low-Hanging Fruit

    Something so easy it should be done first, or an idea so obvious, more thought is

    #48 A Few Quick Wins

    Small, easy-to-come-by success, usually accomplished by going for the low-hanging fruit.

    #49 Fill-in-the-Blank Is the New Fill-in-the-Blank

    Originating in fashion writing, avoid next-big-thing hype.

    #50 Best Practices

    The way things are typically done.

    Do your best to be creative but direct when you speak, and stand apart from your colleagues in your MBA school. This is important, because if you have done well enough to be admitted into a good Online MBA school, you want to be sure to communicate effectively.