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In Praise Of Clichés
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kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 1:54:52 PM
I'll take a cliche, but No buzzword bingo
It's one thing to have a mission statement that may spout simialar things all companies want. (to serve their customers better, to have products to be proud of etc.) but when we are in a meeting I don't want to play buzzword bingo as my boss is speaking either. don't tell me you want to (fill in buzzword here), tell me how you want us to do it so we are doing it better/faster/cheaper than the competition.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2014 | 3:58:41 PM
Re: Only resort to cliches....until the cows come home
From what I can tell, cliches are cliches when used correctly for their common definition. When they are used incorrectly, they are simply mistakes. When used correctly, they are used because they are easy and vague --- and vagueness is prized by leaders without clear strategic vision. When they are used incorrectly, they muddle the situation even worse because no one knows what the heck you mean.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2014 | 12:51:22 PM
Re: Only resort to cliches....until the cows come home
@Charles- that's an interesting comment. You are basically saying a cliche is cliche based on its use as opposed to its commonality. So a "stitch in time saves nine" is only a cliche when misused? Intellectually, I'm intrigued by this concept. It explains why coaches get away with "we're goign to be more aggressive" every football season and it explains why cliches work at times. 

On the other hand, it makes them frighteningly difficult for managers to learn when to use them then. Oh well, i guess that is the manager's problem.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2014 | 12:46:11 PM
Re: In Praise Of Cliches
@angelfuego- That's an exccellent example of the good and the bad use of cliches. I think one lesson we can learn here is that the good cliche "propoer planning prevents poor performance" actually provides advice on what to do. the bad cliche sounds basically like the manager is out of ideas and wants you to go away before you realize it.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2014 | 12:43:45 PM
Re: In Praise Of Cliches
@zerox203- I guess we have to rely on another cliche-- everything in moderation. :)

Seriously though, your very thoughtful comment points out the troubles of all management writing. As much as you want to teach it, you can't do it directly. There is no single method of management which would work for all managers in all situations. There are no step-by-step instructions.

The best I think any writer can do is propose a set of ideas knowing that some small percentage of them will resonate with any given individual. And the best a manager can do is read a bunch of articles and figure out which ones resonate with them.

I look at management advice like clubs in a golf bag. Some of them you use a lot. Some of them you only use when you are stuck behind the tree in a puddle. The best any of us can do is list all the potential clubs so a manager can decide what to stick into his bag. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
7/21/2014 | 12:36:57 PM
Re: Talk vs. Walk
@SaneIT- You're right. I should have used the term "catch phrase." Anyone who writes for sitcoms knows the power of a catchphrase. You never want your staff to say, "Whachya talkin' about, CIO?" :)
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
7/18/2014 | 6:57:17 PM
Only resort to cliches....until the cows come home
"Choose your cliches carefully." A cliche is not a cliche when it can be used to sum up your group's new reality, some situation that it's struggling to understand and the cliche acts an interpreter of events that all can relate to. Then again, I've heard plenty of would-be leaders mindlessly resort to cliches 24X7 until the cows come home.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/17/2014 | 6:28:00 PM
Re: In Praise Of Cliches
@David, Re:" Shared vision is the key concept. A shared vision requires clear, simple communication so that everyone understands it. Clichés offer the chance to do something rare: Convey an idea we all understand but need to re-emphasize." I agree. Cliches that are repeated enough can help everyone get the clear vision. In a sense, cliches can become mantras. However, I think the cliches need to be thoughtful and not just some useless jargon. One of my bosses used to always tell us "Proper planning prevents poor performance." This rang a bell for me and I hear myself using the same cliche years later at a different job. I had another job and remember that I used to get frustrated by receiving an outrageous assignment followed by "Make it happen." This boss would have unrealistic expectations, demands, and deadlines and that was his famous cliche. If anyone would explain why it would not be quite possible or would try to explain barriers that prevent meeting the deadline, he would say, "Make it happen." That was frustrating, but we always knew what was expected.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Moderator
7/17/2014 | 6:12:14 PM
Re: In Praise Of Cliches
@David, Re: "Pick your clichés carefully. Make sure they're at the heart of your vision." I think that is true. Our words are powerful and should be chosen carefully. I think sometimes we can speak things into existence, especially when it comes to saying our statements and cliches frequently.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
7/16/2014 | 2:33:10 PM
Re: In Praise Of Cliches
It feels likes this is a topic that makes the rounds pretty frequently - although I did get a chuckle out of the linked Forbes article. Is talking about cliches a cliche? The world may never know. Like the cliches themselves, though, there's a reason for that - If we do something (or hear something) enough, we want to take a closer look at it and see why we do it (this is true for everything from business practices to accidentally touching a hot oven). Any  lazy analysis that paints cliches as completely good or bad (of which there are plenty) invite a good analysis like this one that weighs the good with the bad.

Cliches have become mainstays for a reason, but unfortunately that defense in itself invite their overuse and misuse. For example, you should use a simple cliche to get a message across quickly and easily, but you shouldn't use it when something more specific is just as good - don't say 'we need you to think outside the box' when what you meant is 'we can't afford your current idea for X specific reason'. Nevertheless, we all know managers who have been seduced by the dark side of cliches... but we also know their evil cousin, the 'modern' manager. The guy who goes out of his way not to use cliches, talk like a regulary guy, and make sure it doesn't sound like he went to business school. While that's all well and good, we all know that he's equally as likely to be a lousy manager.
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