Did Your Product Manager Really Say That?
August 29, 2013

Did Your Product Manager Really Say That?

by Brian de Haaff

Everyone I know in technology picks up jargon and funky talk as a way of fitting in or standing out in the office. Sometimes the “MBA speak” is used to obfuscate what is really intended or needed — allowing only those “in the know” to “parse” what the speaker really means.

Unfortunately, product managers seem to be the worst offenders. And partly it is not their fault because they sit at the epicenter of the business and converse with tribes from every direction. But if you know a product manager, it is time to help him stop. “Lean in” and intervene because the phrases can often be “counter-productive” — or worse, a “red herring” that distracts from what really needs to be said and done.

Now, I realize that if we were to “touch foreheads” we would “see eye-to-eye” that many of these phrases replaced other less interesting ways of speaking. And if swapped out their replacements, we might make a similar list in a few years. Imagine if we replaced “low hanging fruit” with “slow moving meat” because our friends in sales (“elephant hunters”) were carnivores. We would all “lose our cookies.”

Regardless, below are my top 35 most overheard phrases that product managers say. I am sure that every product, marketing, and engineering team can add many others to the list.

  1. What’s the ask?

  2. Skate to where the puck will be

  3. A pig and a chicken

  4. Table stakes

  5. Full plate

  6. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature

  7. P1

  8. Best-of-breed

  9. Consensus

  10. Piece of the pie

  11. It’s strategic

  12. Technical debt

  13. ROI

  14. It’s not personal

  15. Next steps

  16. Nice to have

  17. Under resourced

  18. I will talk with the stakeholders

  19. Movember

  20. Touch base

  21. Take this offline

  22. Move the goal posts

  23. Paradigm shift

  24. Bottom this out

  25. It’s on the roadmap

  26. A team

  27. Game-changer

  28. We are in this together

  29. Keep your eye on the ball

  30. Left field

  31. No brainer

  32. It’s in the next release

  33. All hands on deck

  34. Low hanging fruit

  35. Ducks in a row

What would you add to the list?

Brian de Haaff

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 roadmap software — and the author of the bestseller Lovability. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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