Creative LeadershipCreativityStrategy & Marketing

Phrases That Should Be Challenged

In the new book “The Milkshake Moment:  Overcoming Stupid Systems, Pointless Policies, and Muddled Management to Realize Real Growth” by Steven S. Little, (I highly recommend it) he lists some phrases that are often unnecessary hindrances to growth in organizations.  Here’s a few:

“Our accountant made us do this to save us money.”
“Our lawyers said we had to do it or we’d get sued.”
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this one.”
“Information technology (IT) says it would be a big mistake to do it this way.”
“We tried it once, and it  doesn’t work in this kind of organization.”

I would add a few of my own:

“We can’t do it because IT says it’s not secure enough for our network.”
“We’ve done that before.”
“That’s against our policy.”
“We’ve had bad experiences with (insert here – employees, consultants, vendors, equipment, etc.) before, so we don’t do that anymore.”

Every day, companies and non-profits alike are held hostage to limited thinking.  People who are slaves to the system, refuse to think creatively, are afraid of risk, and are insecure.  Let’s stop stupid, limited thinking.  From this point on, let’s make a real effort to be gracious, but as Barney Fife said, “Nip it in the bud.”  Speak up in meetings and cast your vote for reality.  If enough of us do it, perhaps we can put a dent in all the pointless policies, myths, and lazy ideas out there.

Any additional phrases we need to add that you hear at your organization?


  1. My favorite:
    “God told me we should (fill in the blank)”
    and of course the corollary to it is:
    Pat/Joyce/Pastor (or fill in the name of your current top-of-the-foodchain leader) said to do…

  2. Some of the familiar catch phrases I hope never to hear again include:

    "What's the bottom line?", "Outside the box", "Cutting-edge", "Let me get back to you on that", "I'll let you know", "Cut to the chase", "Pastor wants to", "Let me run this by IT", "We can't afford that", "We're in a hiring/spending freeze"…and my favorite from clients looking for the cheapest price they can get – "We're really looking for some bang for the buck on this project."

  3. Let's also ban: "Go for the low hanging fruit."

    Rescue me from people who have a database, have done testing, and yet still give the donors something that is light years from what the donor likes and responds to saying "God told me to <blah, blah, blah>."

  4. "But if we did it like that… people might leave the CHURCH!" — I say if they would leave over something like that then they weren't really meant to be here anyway.

  5. My favorite follow up to the pastor coment:

     "Pastor, I hear we are doing (X)"

     "What? I thought we were still thinking about this? I never said this was a go." 

  6. How about: "Uhm … I don't know. What do YOU think?" … Which wouldn't be so bad necessarily, in moderation. But EVERY time something is posed ?? C'mon, all you so-called "leaders" out there. Grow some backbone and DECIDE something [right or wrong] once in a while. Terminal Analysis Paralysis will KILL you AND your office morale.

    Whew! I feel better now. Thanks.

  7. I run a department where I work, and corporate obscenities (as I call them) are banned in my office. We have a list of phrases that must not be used. For instance:

    1. Team (unless with reference to a sporting event).
    2. Thinking outside the box.
    3. Work smarter not harder.

    Etc etc.

    Also, when recently informed by another manager in the organisation that “there is no “I” in team”, I pointed out that if you rearrange the letters, there is a “me” in team.

    I think it was Terry Pratchett who said “I’ll be more enthusiastic about thinking outside the box when I see evidence of something going on inside it.”

  8. "Because Pastor said so…"

    "I'll have to check with our committee…" (Since when in Scripture was a committee Biblical?)

    Let's see…a committee of Pharisees…not a good idea.

    A committee of spies coming back from the Promised Land…not a good idea.

    A committee of 12 disciples…nope, they followed their leader.

    Hmm…a pattern here… 🙂

Leave a Reply

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker