The 18 Worst Project Management Terms (And What They Really Mean)

Are you still having that “I’m actually becoming your dad” moment?
You know how you used to tease dad for taking 45 minutes to load the dishwasher correctly, until you find yourself planning the layout of your butter knives and saucers as if it were a life-or death game of Super Kitchen Simulator.
Or the way you used scold the old man for insisting on getting the best gas possible until you found yourself driving 13 miles to “save” 74% on a fill up?
The same applies to project management buzzwords.
One day, you’re in the office kitchen mocking phrases such as “thinking outside of the box” or “synergy” and the next, you’re “pinging” your coworkers to determine which one has enough “bandwidth to take on the next item.
How is this possible? Add a little bit of laziness and a little bit of lack of awareness. Now add a healthy scoop of “Some-of-these-words-are-pretty-darn-catchy-the-first-12-times-you-hear-them” and a dollop or two of “If-it-looks-like-a-project-manager-and-talks-like-a-project-manager-then-it-probably-is-a-project-manager,” you have a perfect recipe for project management buzzwords.
It is important to first identify buzzwords in your diet, then to figure out their meaning (in straight talk) so you can find original and more straightforward ways to convey your message.
Let’s shift the paradigm, get past the low-hanging fruits, and dive deep into…

Project Management Buzzwords
1. Attention to Detail
Could be mistaken as: A job requirement for the guy who throws knives at his assistant spinning around on a large wooden target. Or, a clever name to describe a luxury car wash.

It means: Focus, thoroughness and accuracy.
2. Best-in-Class
Could be mistaken as: Jean-Claude Van Damme movie in which “The Muscles From Brussels”, a group of teenagers, infiltrate a high school to inject some sense into the corrupt principal.

It actually means: The highest quality in a particular category. But how often does something truly “best” in a class? There can’t be eight “bests,” in a class.
3. Change Management
Could be mistaken as: George Clooney’s field from Up In The Air

It is about getting your team to accept changes to the project and working together to make sure that they are successful.
4. Current State Assessment
Could be misinterpreted as: What to do if you try a double-black diamond your second time skiing, but fail to find a ski, glove or goggles twenty yards from the trail?

It means: What is happening in your business right now?
5. Disruptive
Could be mistaken as: The lovable, but mischievous boy from Problem Child. Or Dennis the Menace. Or Clifford.

It is a technological breakthrough that alters existing markets. Also known as innovative.
6. Due Diligence
Could be misunderstood: It is possible to mistakenly believe that the speaker is saying “do diligence” instead of “do earnestness.”

The scout master didn’t do his homework.
It means: Careful preparation. You could also say diligence. You could also just say diligence.
7. Execution Metrics
Could be mistaken for: An awesome new Arnold Schwarzenegger/Steven Seagal/Dolph Lundgren movie where an aging hitman becomes the target himself!

It is actually statistics that tell whether something works or not.
8. Gap Analysis

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