Meaningless Catch Phrases You Are Sick Of

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by bountyhunter, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    Right now, I have two phrases I think should be banned. Add any that you want as well.

    1) WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER (WSNH)

    This one is pretty old. I can remember hearing it back in the mid 70's. It's main objective is to give managers rationalization for making people work 60 hours a week. After all, if you work smarter not harder, you can get anything done faster and easier with less resources. It's all magic. Shorten the schedule, get everything done with fewer people and less money. The great thing about magic is that it's free and it can do anything.

    What really bugs me about this? There is an embedded message:

    You are a moron and are always doing things the hard way until I tell you how to do it right. The reality is the managers spouting the WSNH bull have no clue about anything and the suggestions they come up with are rubbish.... which gives you more things to do on top of all your real work.

    In my 30 years, what I saw was that people always work smarter without being told for a simple reason: they like doing things the easy way. If there is a way to shorten a cycle or get things done more simply, we do it without being told. Of course, in this age of ISO 9001, we would not be allowed to streamline a process without first creating a mountain of documentation to justify it.... but that's separate problem.


    2) FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION (FINAO)

    This saying is a lot newer. It gained national prominence because of the Iraq war, when people like Lindsey Graham accused the democrats in congress of intentionally trying to lose that war for political gains. It was quickly used in business for similar political reasons: the one saying it sounds like he is on the "right side" and standing fast while implying the person the comment is directed to is causing the "failure".

    I have heard the FINAO comment said hundreds of times in a business setting whenever anybody would point out how the schedule did not account for what needed to be done, the specs could not be met with our process, etc....... and some person who was usually a Marketing Director would stand up and spout FINAO to silence them.

    What I gradually realized was that the FINAO spouter knew that failure was not only an option, it was IMMINENT and they wanted to make sure the blame was spread in other directions.

    Once at a meeting, I heard one of our directors (Dennis Monticelli) speaking the "inner truths" that are rarely said in public. They were talking about how they were going to get the development schedules onnew ICs from 30 months down to 10 months. Of course, we had submitted plans to do this which were rejected because they required resources......

    Dennis said something I will never forget (I am not making this up):

    "People will always find a way to fail if you let them. You have to make the punishment for failure so high that it forces people not to fail."

    That is basically the attitude behind FINAO. They know how much we love to fail, and they are simply reminding us that they are not going to let us succumb to our basic tendency to always be a loser.

    How nice of them.
     
  2. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    "The only person who can affect your mood/attitude is you." variant: "You are in control of your own mood." Variant 2: "You have a choice about whether or not you will let other people's words affect you."
    WTF? Really? This is effing stupid platitude. Of course if someone whose opinion you value says something hurtful to you, you will be hurt. To claim otherwise is denial.

    "You can do whatever you set your mind to." - Really? No, I can't swim through soil no matter how determined I may be.

    "you are the master of your own destiny." Then why the hell is it called a destiny?

    "The Human Race." Yeah, you mean like "The Canine Breed?"
     
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  3. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    Good one.

    I swear this is true:

    At Nat Semi back in the 90's, they handed out little tripod mirrors that we had to set on our desks above our phones. The mirrors had an inscription on them:

    THEY HEAR WHAT YOU SEE

    Somebody had convinced them that smiling while you talked made people sound more cheerful. So we were supposed to look in the mirror and smile when we talked to people to "improve our mood".....
     
  4. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    For real? Seriously? That really happened?

    How can one not run straight for the door after this management decision?
     
  5. Sparky49

    Active Member

    Jul 16, 2011
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    Actually, studies show that smiling does have an impact, even when it is hidden from view through media such as a telephone. :)

    Drahota, A., Costall, A., & Reddy, V. The vocal communication of different kinds of smile, Speech Communication (2007)

    :p :D
     
  6. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    TGIF - Thank Goodness It's Friday!

    So at the end of Friday you can put all your troubles behind you
    and then comes Monday and you have to put up with the same s... that you left behind.

    TINA - There Is No Alternative

    made famous by the Iron Lady,

    APOS - another piece of s...
     
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  7. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    The problem isn't that many/most of these platitudes might not have some applicability in some situations or might not convey a useful kernel of knowledge in the spirit behind them, but that largely brain-dead "leaders" and "consultants" latch on to them and promote them (as a means of promoting themselves, usually) as a one-stop miracle cure to every situation.

    While I imagine it originated before this, the first use of "failure is not an option" was by Gene Kranz to the people faced with dealing with the Apollo 13 explosion. It was immediately apparent that, by the book and everything they understood initially, that it was simply impossible to bring those men home alive. It would have been quite easy for them to simply accept the sad reality that they all knew they faced. By challenging them in that way (and along with giving them very specific authority to utilize whatever resources were needed), he drove home a basic point that was getting lost in the gloom and doom atmosphere -- that if they fail, those three men die because of it. It wasn't so much that failure itself wasn't an option, but rather that sitting back and accepting that failure was inevitable was not an option.

    At that time, in that context, it wasn't a platitude. But now it almost always is.

    What gets me, in addition to worn and overused platitudes, are the need to incorporate whatever the latest buzzwords are into every statement possible regardless of how absurd and out of place it might be. The big word these days is "diversity". I remember back in the 1980's when NBS was changing its name to NIST, the director came and gave a talk to all of us and beforehand were batting around what inane things he was going to spout and someone said something about him being sure to get in all the politically correct buzzwords. So we made a list of ten buzzwords, such as "empowerment", and as I sat there listening to it I ticked off how many times he used one of them. Sure enough, he hit every single word on the list and got most of them in several times. I think he used "empowerment" six or seven times.
     
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  8. Sparky49

    Active Member

    Jul 16, 2011
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    So as an EE undergrad, I'm starting to think that industry is really like a Dilbert strip?

    PHB is real?!?! :O
     
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  9. WBahn

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    Dilbert is a documentary! :D
     
  10. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    The meaningless phrase that makes my face churn is, sadly, not intended to be a meaningless phrase by the person that says it. The phrase appears everywhere, "ten times less" (or "any-whole-number-greater-than-one time less"). Since a current state ratio should be calculated as ("new state value" / "original state value"), anything more that 1 will yield a negative number if it is really that many time less.

    You could say as my wife tried to explain, "it is clear what they mean, they mean 1/10th". Well, I think they should say 1/10th if that is what they mean because "10 times less is rediculous!" Here is why:"10 time less" is common but "2 times less" is also used (and incorrect) and by my wife's logic it should mean half. Well, if two times less means half, what does half times less mean? Does 0.5 now equal 2?

    Language should be clear. The good new is that values can be described accurately and doesn't take much effort. The sad news is that many people, especially on network news, elect not to use clear language because ignorant and lazy people are much more easily persuaded or awed by "10 times less" than they are by phrases like "10% of" or "90% less".

    So, if the price of oil is now 0.3 times less than it was last year, how much does it cost today?
     
  11. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    Self-assessment

    I'm at the point in my work career where I personally boycott filling out one at work anymore. I turn in a blank page with my signature. For a few years the HR managers would ask about it being empty but now they just file it.
    http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/07/lets-abolish-self-appraisal/
     
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  12. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    It happened. They gave us all mirrors and told us we had to put them in our office.

    That wasn't the dumbest thing I saw there... didn't even make me blink.
     
  13. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    Too bad they didn't give something to smile about instead of just a mirror....:p
     
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  14. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    bullseye!


    Good point. But they operated from the point that since failure was not an option, all possible solutions were on the table. In my environment all possible solutions were EXCLUDED from the outset: you can have anything you need as long as it is not support, time, resources, or money.

    At national Semi back then, a dufus named Brian halla took over one of the most prolific analog IC companies on earth. yet he knew NOTHING about analog and in fact, planned to sell the profitable pieces of the company to finance a micro processor company to defeat Intel. Seriously.

    So Halla made a speech where he said his vision was to "put systems on a chip"...... and afterward, every public address made by any company officer from department manager up had the phrase "system on a chip" repeated at least a dozen times.:eek:
     
  15. bountyhunter

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    We had documented cases of companies here in the valley that instituted internal security sweeps to find out who was leaking info to the Dilbert author Scott Adams.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
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  16. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

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    The marketing director used to let his people fill out their own evaluations... since he was too flipping lazy. At that time we had a system where we would get 70% for completion of basic goal, 100% for "stretch" goals on an item (significantly exceeds basic goal), and 130% for "super stretch" far exceeding goal target. We would typically get like 80% and the marketing guys all got 130%.

    Of course... raises were tied to score.:mad:
     
  17. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    At national one time they set it up for PEER evaluation where co workers would write the performance reviews for their co workers. So, we went to the cafeteria and all sat in a circle and wrote each other's reviews. So we KNEW exactly what had been submitted..... which bore no resemblance to what ended up on our reviews. It turned out it was all a complete fraud as part of the EMPOWERMENT baloney to make people think they had control over the review process when in reality they didn't.

    My manager froze when I told her what we did and that we knew it was a scam.
     
  18. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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    Murphy was an optimist (MWAO)
     
  19. bountyhunter

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    I thought that was one of the fundamental truths of the universe.;)
     
  20. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    It's a win win.
     
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