back to article Brits decline to 'think outside the box'

Free Pro-active Download - Going Forward with Blue-sky Thinking for Web 2.0 It's official: Brits do not, at the end of the day, want to think outside the box, touch base, indulge in blue-sky thinking or, for that matter, get pro-active with some 360° thinking. That's the verdict of a YouGov poll into "buffling" - the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    No mention of...

    ...leveraging paradigms?

  2. Duckorange
    Paris Hilton

    It's always worthwhile... sabotage meetings that turn into Buzzword Bingo hell.

    I once got away with "Let's hammer these ideas into the ground and see if the nice dog pisses on them" with only minor injuries.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    square the circle

    trouble with this list is it doesnt differentiate those where there is an alternative word or phrase. There are plenty of other ways of saying "think outside the box" that aren't tapped from the US. However im hard pushed to think of a one word alternative to pro-active for example.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Thought shower

    At the end of the day with the credit crunch causing a lot of companies to do pro-active downsizing I think we all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet and do some blue sky thinking about this. Going forward it is obvious that pushing the envelope by thinking outside of the box is the only way to keep in the loop and keep all our ducks in a row.

    I think maybe its time for a new El Reg competition for made up management bullshit.

    Mine's the one with the P45 in the pocket

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What? No "leveraging"?

    Paris, 'cos I'd like to touch her base...

  6. Hollerith

    Wot? No leveraging or incentivising?

    No learnings to be taken away? In-the-loop stakeholders know better than to point and shoot, but they do seek to upscale their maximum gains via utilising communication assets, and such a value-added content event, ie this list, would surely give them power tools to rocket-fire their career paths into the hierarchy decision-making tiers.

  7. Richard Williams
    Thumb Down

    You missed...

    that most horrible word, almost always used before a lengthy and complex explanation...


  8. George Jenkins

    Laser shape focus


  9. Scotty

    I question

    ..whether 20% are wrong that using these memes 'has had or would have a positive impact on their career". I know I have used them with dim management types that seem comforted by their familiar sounds.

    I think its a just a mistake to use these without people bright enough to understand better.

  10. Dan
    Thumb Up

    Good article...

    but I fail to see how 'at the end of the day' or 'all of it' qualify - they're just everyday expressions, and are never in the same paradigm (ah, f*** it) as blue-sky thinking and all that other turd.

    Incidentally, this is one article where a comment from amanfrommars would possibly make more sense than the buffling rubbish being spouted in the comments above!

  11. Tom Paine Silver badge

    a new one

    You know how it is - once you've spotted it once, you see it everywhere. "Out turn". As in..."We'll let the project through this gate, and hope it out turns successful deliverables."

  12. bert Plucker

    missing word

    How come 'Leverage' is missing then . Maybe cos this word has been used to doom the world.

  13. Sid

    It's missing...

    ...there's no 'I' in team (but there is a 'me')

  14. Joey
    Thumb Down

    Makes me sick...

    I've heard so much of this crap and it is about time that people were put down publically for doing it!

    People who, sort of, talk in clichés - y'know. Does my 'ead in. You know what I mean? Is it to impress people with their eloquence? Does exactly the opposite. You know what I mean?

    El Reg writers are not imune. My pet hate is the word 'leveraging' - crops up all the time! You know what I mean?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know someone who does this all the time.

    We have taken to *making up* fake buffles to see if he takes the bait and starts using them.

    It works, of course, because he doesn't want to be "behind the curve" when it comes to buzzword-laden management-speak.

    Current favourite, "We're not trrying to eat the *whole* mammoth, you know". Used at least once a day, currently.

  16. Dominic Kua

    Pushing the envelope

    Does that mean offering a bribe?

    Enquiring minds need to know!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Another teeth-nasher

    One that I'm currently fighting a losing battle to not use (having picked it up from the people I'm working with on my current contract) is ENGAGE - as in "can we get the database team engaged?", "when will Networks be engaged?", and "you need to get the PM engaged"!


  18. Eddie Edwards


    Yes I have been guilty of using these terms at home.

    e.g. "How much of that can you eat?" "All of it."

    or "Can you assemble this straight away?" "No I need to take it out of the box first."

    or "When are you going to bed?" "At the end of the day."

    or "Are you considering the new XBox at all?" "No, I wasn't going to engage in any 360 thinking."

    I mean I could go on ...

  19. Rhyd


    I hear "at the end of the day" in every post-match interview, along with "y'know" at least 5 times in each sentence!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to find about more about yourself

    So I can see what's suitable for yourself.

    No doubt there are others that betray the ignorant trying to sound clever, but this one does it for me.

  21. Jamie Kitson

    All of it?

    One that seems particular to my workplace is "In the first instance." Why can't we just say "initially"? Please. But it's usually used where there will never be a second or third instance anyway.

    Anyway, I love being a sceptical Brit.

  22. Dave

    "All of it"

    Am I missing some hidden meaning, or strange usage of "All of it" ??

    That sounds like perfectly cromulent English to me.

  23. Leon Stringer
    Gates Horns

    Missed my "favourite" IT phrases

    Anything described as "Industry standard": seems to get applied to anything to justify its use.

    Anything described as "Best of breed": aaaaargh! It's so meaningless!

    (Bill - because he epitomises the "it's industry standard" excuse for second-rate IT).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Unholy turdspurt

    I can think of another example of buffling; going forward.

    Hate that phrase.

  25. Simon Whiteley



    that word made me spit my tea all over my keyb.

    what did it do to yous?

  26. jolly

    it gets dark

    Whenever I hear anyone say "at the end of the day" I immediately interject with "it gets dark". I've had to do it multiple times in separate meetings but do it EVERY time I hear that phrase in the hope that people will eventually get the message that it's irritating and lazy.

    My other pet hate is "it's still early doors". EARLY DOORS? What's that all about?

  27. Jonah

    And another...

    "Let's solidify the agenda"

    Unabashedly spouted on a train journey from Bradford to London as two business types thought it would be great to have a meeting in transit, ruining my carefully set aside book time. I considered heckling.

  28. Big_Boomer


    Calling it buffling is just as bad as doing it.

    In plain English it's called TALKING BOLLOCKS!

    It is normally perpetrated by middle management who no longer have the technical jargon they could fall back on as senior techies, and are missing that ability to bore/baffle people into stupefaction. So they substitute bollocks for English.

    It's as bad as someone who punctuates their sentences with "right" or "yeah".

  29. Alex

    Thought shower?

    sounds more like a tissue full of ideas to me!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Next time it happens...

    just query it. Great game...

    Boss: ..think outside of box....

    you...what box? it up the flagpole...

    you...where is it?


    you..this flagpole?

    or one to really make him look dumb....

    Boss...moving forward we need to be pro-active

    You....Ok, I'll crack on with getting those future problems fixed.

    Boss...great, that's what I like to here.

    may explain my lack of promotions...

  31. Jason Togneri
    Thumb Down


    Personally I don't use any of those terms - at least, I've not noticed it - but I have noticed them in common use more and more often. On a related note, are you sure "buffling" isn't just a typo (intentional or otherwise) of "bluffing"?

  32. Richard Fletcher

    I heard this a lot when I worked at HSBC.

    "Tasked" as opposed to "Asked" or "Told". As far as I am aware, "Task" is a noun, not a verb. Using Task as a verb is doubleungood.

  33. dek

    The Solution

    Thinking outside of the box, and just to touch base with you all, at the end of the day we all have to keep going forward. All of it is really blue sky thinking and blue sky is what you may see if you fall out of the box as the credit crunch hits home. So "Heads up!" let us all get singing from the same hymn sheet, be pro-active, forget downsizing, line all your ducks in a row for some serious brainstorming (quack, quack). After this I thought "shower" and then, as I was turning 360° thinking "get all those suds off", I realised the solution to the credit crunch and should flag it up. But as I was pushing the envelope in the post box I thought "at this moment in time, I am definitely *not* in the loop", so why bother.

    (sigh, I really should get a job, and soon)

  34. Galaxy Bob


    Sad and a bit surprised to see "We are where we are" isn't on the list. Gaaaaaaa!!!!!! I hate that phrase.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Real English please

    Many of these phrases are absolutely fine, and I don't find them annoying at all. However, I do find them very annoying when used incorrectly, which is what a lot of management seem to do.

    I have a nasty habit of correcting or asking questions about meaningless phrases:

    2. Touch base

    Thank you, but I don't want to play for the company rounders or baseball team.

    3. At the end of the day

    It's dark and I'm either asleep or in a pub. Oh, the end of the working day? Ok, I'm going home.

    6. Blue sky thinking

    Yes, nitrogen scatters blue light, what's that got to do with my job?

    7. Out of the box

    You want me to unpack the new shiny toys? Cool, lead me to them. Where's the screwdriver?

    10. Singing from the same hymn sheet

    Is it not rather bad form to bring religious doctrine into a place of work in a mostly secular country?

    13. Ducks in a row

    Repeats of Terry and June can be found on cable TV. Fortunately, watching them is not in my contract.

    14. Brainstorming

    I am not troubled by epilepsy at the moment, and my job doesn't require me to know much about it. Why are you talking about it?

    16. 360° thinking

    Gets you back where you started from. If you're going to just go in circles, can I go home?

    18. Pushing the envelope

    Bring me the head of Willy the mail boy! He knows he's not supposed to fold, spindle or mutilate!

    19. At this moment in time

    Do you mean "Now"?

    20. In the loop

    I don't have one for this, but loop reminds me of rope, which usually means sailors, so I can use the pirate icon. Yarr!

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Step Up to the Plate and Bring Something New To The Table?

    A repulsive line-up, to be sure.

    But whatever happened to the obnoxious "step up to the plate" and "bring something new to the table"? Surely much better than "all of it" (is that even a phrase?) and "thought shower" (very Day Todayish, but I've never actually heard it used).

    (Jacket because I've more than once said "at the end of the day" in a non-ironic manner and been thoroughly disgusted with myself once I realised).

  37. John Wise

    A bit surprised...

    ...that "Take this offline" isn't there (in relation to discussing something outside of a meeting).

    That phrase makes my blood boil! A poncey way of saying they don't want to talk about something.

    Jolly Roger, as most who like to use this kind of lingo are *** pirates!

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Touch Base

    Is a overused baseball metaphor, not surprising a UK poll would tend to rank it higher.

    There is also the question 'does it help your career'? I know I have been quilty of many of these, but tend to use them more around dim managers who do genuinely seem to be comforted by their familiar noises.

  39. Lottie

    I have to admit.... using a lot of phrases like this, but only ever in jest.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I told you so

    I was bleating about this months ago.

    Paris, because she never thinks outside of her box.

  41. Ron


    Where's Synergy!? It's quite possibly the worst!

  42. Christopher Rogers


    Death to those who promote the use of such shite.

  43. David Pollard


    Now write a short story, in total less than 200 words, that includes all these phrases.

    In a word, Friday.

  44. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Rejargonize me!!!

    I love clichès - without them my head would roll and my dick would be hung, drawn, quartered and minced. I translate. What I translate is corporate and public administration gobble-de-gook - bullshit about bullshit. The thing is, it's cunning bullshit. There's always a hidden agenda - and the emperor's new clothes might look invisible to outsiders, but that's only cos they're stealthed up to hide the real beef. So what is source is subtext under subtext (who's screwing who, who's gonna be screwing who, and who's thought up the whole scam), and this needs to be transferred into target with the last little nuance in place. And the stealth shielding covering it all? Clichés wrapping everything in sticky cling-film. And interpreting is the same thing but in real-time - ear to tongue with no time-consuming detours through the wetware.

    So, no clichés - no subtext. No layers of cling-film - way too much of the wrong kind of transparency. And no more politics, diplomacy or business deals as we know and love them.

    Translators have a code: if we like someone, we write what they meant to say. If we detest someone, we write what they actually wrote.

    Another very useful aspect of clichification is that it means that you can regurgitate the same crap in five years time, but rejargonizated so it feels new. And that's good for us too, cos it means we have to think less, just so long as we didn't bother about changing the old buzzwords in the first place.

    So no supercilious holier than thou shit from know-all Regarstards, please! This stuff is Warhol performance art, world-class poetry, and what's more, it's a perpetual motion machine going round and round before our very eyes.

    (Paris cos she loves clichés too, and I'd like have her gyrating perpetually over me wearing the fairy-tale emperor's new clothes.)

  45. Clive Galway

    Another day, another Grauniad-like mistake

    The numbering of the points is 1-0 twice. I guess you are missing a one before the first 0 through to the second 9, and a two from the start of the second zero.

  46. Bill

    'Grow your business'

    This gets me into a bit of a froth. In days gone by it used to be 'expand your business'. Where the f... did 'Grow' come from? I always think that it's because the attitude of many managers is that if you talk enough bullsh*t then things will happen

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  48. David Evans


    I use some of those. I bet most people on here do as well. At the end of the day.

  49. Robert Hill


    all I am looking for is a little more clarity on these points, with the aim of escalating these opportunities to the business owner for resolution. If he buys in, we can leverage our other intellectual properties and methdologies and turn them into new business assets. Then we can rapidly monetize those assets and thus deliver an uptick in business value...

    Kill me now...

  50. Matthew Ellen


    I've been guilty of using "going forward" once or twice. I always cringe afterwards, then remoind myself it's better to not say something rather than say going forward.

    Another word I hate people using, because it almost never has cause to be used, is methodology. 99.99% of the time the word you should use is method.


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