Retirees Try to Decipher Business Jargon

Time to retire the jargon?

Here at Expert Market we believe that clear communication is essential to great business.

To illustrate just how cliquey, confusing and downright annoying business jargon can be, we filmed a group of retirees as they attempt to understand some current business buzzwords – proving just how much language has changed over the past few years and how nonsensical some of the new additions are to people outside of the office.

Watch the video and then check out the table below to see how many you get right!


Business jargon put to our retirees:

Business JargonRetiree ResponseDefinition
Hot desking?Allocating desks to workers when they are required rather than giving each worker their own desk.
Mind map?A visual representation of information that includes a central idea surrounded by connected branches of associated topics.
Unicorn business“Unicorns with horns”A start-up company valued at over $1 billion.
Thought shower“I thought I had a shower but I didn’t”A discussion in which new ideas are generated and discussed
Reaching out“Trying to touch them”
“Make Money”
“Come to me”
To initiate contact with someone, with the usual implication that the contact is helpful or beneficial.
Touching base offline“Going to see someone personally”Meeting face to face.
Online troll“Rubbish, something that’s no use whatsoever”A person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or upsetting people
Dreams architect“Something to do with the future”Job role: Creative director
Big data“All that stuff that comes up on your computer”
“What they use to make people have an advantage over others”
Extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.

As you can see, much of this ludicrous boardroom lingo is simply incomprehensible to our straight talking retirees.

At a time when businesses are increasingly striving for globalisation and transparency it seems counterproductive that such exclusive and bewildering language is still used. These phrases are meaningless to many, regardless of age or profession and international business people would undoubtedly find these phrases perplexing.

One of our retirees commented that if he was working today he definitely “wouldn’t be able to handle” the ridiculousness of this vacuous vocabulary. Another referred to the business jargon as “garbled” and many had absolutely “no idea” what the meaning of the phrases were, finding them quite hilarious.

Below are some more examples of baffling business jargon that has barged its way into the boardroom. If you’re as confused as us, maybe it’s time to retire the jargon where you work.

Business JargonMeaning
Boil the oceanWasting time
DogfoodingWhen a company uses the product they sell to others
Ladder upTo connect one specific thing to a grand theme
Giving 110%Give more than is mathematically possible
Drinking the Kool-AidAgreeing to a risky idea because of peer pressure
Cut the mustardPerforming to a satisfactory standard
Buy-inAgreeing to a course of action
Swim laneA certain responsibility within the organisation of the business
Tiger teamA group of (tech) experts
Peel the onionDelve into a problem to discover the underlying cause
Move the needleGenerating a reaction