NOOSA – The eminently sensible article by Stephen Charteris, replete with sly hat tips to consultants, took me back.
It took me back to those periods of my career when I was a consultant – and there were many such periods often for big chunks of a long career.
So it is from that shallow basis that I offer you this glossary of some of the jargon used by consultants and those of their ilk (that is, people who behave like consultants).
Actionable – ready to be actioned. “It’s not actionable right now because the consultant’s on leave and she didn’t really explain what she was doing.”
Bandwidth – capacity. “If we hire an extra consultant we’ll have the bandwidth to deliver with minimal months delay.”
Benchmark – a standard or measurement. “That didn’t work so let’s have a special PNG benchmark.”
Best practice – a superior method. “I know you’ve been doing it like this for years but it’s not best practice.”
Bird’s eye view - high-level view. “I don’t understand the problem, from Canberra it doesn’t look so hard.”
Blank slide – no actual information. “We’re starting with a blank side, so what does the client think we ought to do?”
Boil the ocean – go to extreme lengths. “We’ll have to boil the ocean or get some new bandwidth to finish this on time.”
Broad brush – lacking detail. “We’re not really on top of it yet so we’ll give the client a broad brush and hope that’s enough.”
Buy-in - stakeholder consent. “If we don’t get buy-in from Canberra we’re pretty much rooted.”
Circle back – follow up. “Not getting far with this so we’ll circle back later when we’ve had a couple of beers.”
Core competencies – things we’re good at. “Don’t worry, it’s a core competency and worked well in Afghanistan.”
Covid – excuse. “The strategy would be completed now if it wasn’t for Covid.
Deep dive - thorough analysis. “Let’s bring up Debbie from South to do a deep dive on this.”
Deliverables – outcomes. Pre-project: solutions. Post-project: more problems.
Drill down – get more details. “We need more funds to extend the planning period so we can drill down further on this one.”
Elevator test - ability to explain concepts quickly. “Harry failed the elevator test, he was there for two hours and the client still didn’t understand.”
Granular - smallest elements of an issue. “We’d take it to the granular level but nobody would understand it.”
Greenfield - new opportunity. “While you’re working on this one look out for a greenfield we can pitch.”
Guesstimate – guess. “Don’t have exact numbers so I’ll give you a guesstimate but don’t hold me to it.”
Learning curve – rate of learning. “Hector’s main drawback as a consultant is he never gets higher up the learning curve than the client.”
Offline – outside the meeting. “I don’t want anyone else to know this so let’s talk offline.”
Out of the box - something creative. “Client’s not too happy so we need something out of the box.”
Low-hanging fruit – quick wins. “Let’s show the new client how good we are by dealing with the low hanging fruit first.”
Paradigm shift – changing the framework. “We don’t have the bandwidth and it’s not a core competency so let’s go for a paradigm shift.”
Pitch – proposal for business. “We’ll let the top team from Sydney pitch and send up the guys from Brisbane to deliver.”
Porpoise - go into detail but come back up for clarity. “Another couple of porpoises and I think we’ll get on top of this.”
Rebrand – name change. “We haven’t managed to get anywhere on this, the client’s reputation is rubbish so let’s do a rebrand.”
Rockstar - high achiever. “Myrtle’s a rockstar, Canberra will move her out of here soon.”
Rubber hitting road – reality strikes. “Well it all looked good till the rubber hit the road.”
Synthesis – blend information to make it understandable. “Looks like a mess now but we’ll bring Bert up from Brisbane to do a synthesis.”
Value add - add value to a product or process. “That new design didn’t work so let’s value add the old one by changing the colour.”
Write a deck- prepare slides for presentation. “You can write a deck so it looks like we’re making progress.”
Source: Adapted and augmented from ‘The graduate’s ultimate glossary for consulting interviews’