My Proposal for 12 New Business Clichés

My junior year of college, I lived next door to the master of clichés. It seemed like every time Neil opened his mouth, out spewed at least a couple tired phrases. Just for fun, my roommate and I used to try to out-cliché him:

“I think I failed my calculus exam, but you can’t cry over spilled milk, because that’s the way the cookie crumbles – and heck, it’s no skin off my nose.”

You get the idea.

Amusing as Neil’s reflex was, it also sensitized me to the fact that clichés were just throwaway phrases, the victims of their own fame. Meaningless, but so darned fun!

The business world is chock full of clichés – from “thinking outside the box” to “win-win situation” to the ridiculous “paradigm shift.”

Weary of these expressions, I think it’s high-time to unveil a new crop of business clichés (for the new millennium).

Here are 12 nominees for your consideration:

Wall envy: The inevitable outgrowth of an open-plan workplace.

Meeting mirage: When a pointless meeting appears to be drawing to a close, only to be given new life by an inane participant.

Super-value proposition: Even better than the original.

E-mail diarrhea: A descriptive term for the steady stream of meaningless messages to your inbox.

Tossing the Facebook frisbee: Cross-posting on the Facebook walls of your co-workers during work hours.

Pink slip parade: Sort of like a ticker-tape parade, but much bloodier.

Nurturing a vulture culture: Allowing employees to pounce on the furniture and/or supplies of their recently laid-off co-workers.

Turbo-charged ascendancy: An employee who “earns” numerous promotions on the fast-track to the executive suite.

Grazing at the holiday trough: The tendency to pig out on all the edible goodies sent by vendors during the Christmas season.

Far-too-casual Friday: The patent abuse of a relaxed dress code.

Uninventing the wheel: Ignoring previously expressed wisdom to pretend the company needs you to develop it.

Elvis – and IT – have left the building: Where are they when you need them the most?

These phrases, of course, will only ascend to cliché status if you start using them – early and often.

I’d appreciate your cooperation, and I welcome additional nominees to add to the list. For inspiration, here are more business clichés than you can shake a stick at


  • Marjanne Pearson

    I really was ROFLing. You and your co-workers are having too much fun with all of this, but it must be wonderful to work with such clever, witty people like you!