Archive for the 'Definitions' Category

Definitions - ‘E’

Posted by Peter on Mar 24 2008 | Definitions

More light-hearted definitions of project management and associated terms, to help with project and stakeholder communications:


(a) Electronic Mail. Mode of communication from computer to computer.

(b) Permanent record of everything you said. Yes, all your emails are saved and can be read by the IT people. You might even send a nasty email to the boss by mistake (surprising but many people inadvertently do just this).


(a) To give power or ability to someone.

(b) Something that managers are unlikely to grant to you, because being ‘empowered’ means being in control and being free to take action in accordance with your own judgment, instead of the manager’s judgment.


(a) The feeling that you are owed or deserving of something without needing to do any of the work to get it.

(b) An expectation that is increasing nowadays, as some companies have extensive perks including free drinks, a gym, rest areas etc. These companies only serve to increase worker demands as they see what other companies give away.

Executive Decision

(a) To independently make a definitive choice.

(b) Something that almost never occurs, due to the huge number of managers who need to sign-off or approve even the smallest choices. See ‘empowerment’.

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Definitions - ‘D’

Posted by Peter on Feb 15 2008 | Definitions

More light-hearted definitions of project management and associated terms, to help with project and stakeholder communications:


(a) Assign responsibility for a task to someone else.

(b) A way of finding out what style your project / department manager adopts. Some managers will delegate everything to their staff, go and play golf, and then take all the credit for the work. Others will hoard all the work, leaving you to do the filing.


(a) Something that will be produced as a result of your plan.

(b) An ill-defined promise in vague language that is impossible to understand and deliver. Example: “We will give Total Customer Satisfaction”.

Doctor’s Appointment (known in Singapore as “Medical Certificate” or MC)

(a) Meeting with a health professional to seek medical care.

(b) Get-out-of-work-free-card.

(c) Excuse for managers to wander in at 11am (”I had a doctor’s appointment”). Staff, of course, are often required to schedule their appointments outside office hours.

Dotted Line

(a) Informal reporting situation in an organisational chart.

(b) You supervise a person but you have no power, authority, or credit. A great way for the company to save money and pass the blame around.

Drill Down

(a) To look at something in detail.

(b) To do the work you said you were going to do in the first place, by reading and investigating.

Due Diligence

(a) To research and learn the facts and details about a project.

(b) Way of terminating unworthy projects “We performed the due diligence and found that it’s not cost-effective”.

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Definitions - ‘C’

Posted by Peter on Jan 14 2008 | Definitions

More definitions of project management and associated terms, to help with project and stakeholder communications:


(a) Business card, or Namecard.

(b) Major source of deforestation due to the extraordinarily high number of cards acquired in any given day.

(c) Status symbol with a meaningless and inflated job title.

“Casual Friday”

(a) The policy of allowing employees to dress informally every Friday.

(b) A seemingly good idea that always ends up with the management sending out an email to describe exactly what employees are and aren’t allowed to wear.


(a) Carbon Copy, or an email option where people can be copied with all the recipients being aware.

(b) Something that micro-managers like you to do, so they can keep a detailed watch on you at all times “Copy me on all your emails to keep me in the loop”.

(b) The classic way of covering yourself, by copying everyone on an email just in case they might ever be involved.


(a) Hard.

(b) Great way of describing your weaknesses. Would you rather say “I have no idea what I’m doing” or “I’m finding this project quite challenging”?


(a) To become different or undergo transformation or alteration.

(b) The introduction of new and annoying policies. A great opportunity for consultants.

“Conference Call”

(a) A phone call involving lots of people.

(b) Long and boring event seemingly designed to test your attention span, during which nothing gets done.

“Constructive Feedback”

(a) Negative feedback that is presented as being useful and for the team-members benefit.

(b) Very subjective, as the term is applied by the person who is delivering the feedback, and not by the unfortunate person who has to receive it.

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Definitions - ‘B’

Posted by Peter on Jan 07 2008 | Definitions

Continuing with the definitions of project management, and associated terms:


(a) Blind Carbon Copy, or an email option where people can be copied without the recipient being aware.

(b) Method by which you can let the boss know that a co-worker is acting like a jerk, by describing the situation and sending it to the boss by ‘bcc’.


(a) Advantages or added-extras.

(b) Something we try very hard to identify - or invent - in order to get the support of the project stakeholders.

‘Best Practice’

(a) The concept that a good and proven process is being followed in the management of a project.

(b) In practice, very subjective. A company can simply say “We follow best practices” to justify the continuation of almost any worn-out process.

‘Big Picture’

(a) Overall view of a project.

(b) What your manager will say to justify that big salary, and avoid having to do any of the work (”You take care of all the details whilst I handle the Big Picture”).


(a) Generating ideas within a group of people, where no idea is regarded as being bad.

(b) Session where the best ideas seem to be withheld, by clever employees who realise that their ideas could generate much additional work for themselves.


(a) The sum of money allocated to a project.

(b) The excuse used to avoid paying a bonus or salary increase “Sorry, there’s no budget for that”.


(a) Support of an idea.

(b) Something without which your project is doomed.

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A Definition of Terms

Posted by Peter on Dec 31 2007 | Definitions

During regular searching around the internet, I’ve noticed some confusion over the exact definition of many terms that we use when communicating with people - particularly when senior management or corporations get involved.

So in an attempt to ’set the record straight’ and be ‘proactive’ I present here some definitions and explanation of some of the more frequently used (and abused) management terms and buzzwords for your enlightenment, comment and enjoyment, starting with ‘A’:


(a) A phrase formed with the initial letters of other words, used as an abbreviation.

(b) Indecipherable terms to those not ‘in the know’, causing the reader to have feelings of alienation and stupidity.

Here’s an example from a Case Study in Stakeholder Management. Really:

“Although the TEMP and the ILSP could be taken to the IPR in draft format, it was necessary that the ROC… be approved”.

Are we all clear on that?

‘Action Items’

(a) Items on a meeting agenda that need to be done by somebody.

(b) Issues that nobody wanted to take responsibility for from the last meeting, and will therefore be postponed until the next meeting.


(a) As Soon As Possible.

(b) Stop everything else that you’re doing and deal with this right now; even though I know that there will be some delays. This allows me to blame you for not getting the task done ‘ASAP’. And even if you actually manage to do the task really quickly, I’ll still be unhappy as I needed it sooner.

‘At the end of the day’

No, not 5.30pm.

(a) The final analysis.

(b) A nice sounding management phrase typically uttered as a conclusion to a nonsensical corporate policy or decision (”… at the end of the day we’ll all be better off, as the bottom line will improve”).


(a) A risk-management strategy.

(b) A survival strategy when the boss is looking for someone to give an Action-Item to. Typically involves mingling in large groups, using emergency exits, or even running away.

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