project management lingo // 12 Dec 2008

I lurk on this great email list of project managers called PMClinic; it’s full of smart people who share war stories of (mostly software development) projects. It’s hosted by Scott Berkun (yes, him again) and each week one of the list members posts a challenging project scenario and the non-lurkers chime in with ideas and suggestions.

This week’s starter topic was a bit different though. The subject line was “Is there Project Management Lingo?” and there are about 60 some-odd responses, with people defining the terms they’ve come across; everything from “86’d” to “Whack-a-mole.” I took a few minutes to catalog all the terms (without definitions; I’m not a masochist); here they are[1], in alphabetical order.

  • 86’d
  • Action required
  • All up
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Arrivadodging
  • Baseline
  • Bear race
  • Blocker
  • Boiling the ocean
  • Cleaner
  • Clue bat
  • Clue bus
  • Clue by 4
  • Coconut shuffle
  • Come to Beavis meeting
  • Come to Jesus meeting
  • Conceptual integrity
  • Consistify
  • Constant time to completion mode
  • Crunch mode
  • Dead in the water
  • Death march
  • Drive
  • Eat your own dog food
  • Eating the elephant one bite at a time
  • Eight days a week
  • Engage
  • Engagement model
  • Enterprise phase
  • Fitting ten pounds of crap into a five pound sack
  • Gantt flotsam
  • Gelled team
  • Greenshifting
  • Happy status
  • Herding cats
  • Heroics
  • Hit with the scope bat
  • I’m going to have to push back on that
  • In the weeds
  • Keeping you up at night
  • Looped in
  • Lugubrious
  • Mitchy2008
  • Mocks
  • Nine women can’t have a baby in one month
  • Open kimono
  • Overcome by events
  • Permalancing
  • Permanent prototype
  • Programmatics
  • RACI
  • Rat hole
  • Ready fire aim
  • Red hat period
  • Redshirt
  • Run up that hill
  • Schedule chicken
  • Scope
  • Scope creep
  • Scrub
  • Second system effect
  • Setup for failure
  • Setup for success
  • Shovel ready
  • Showstopper
  • Sign up
  • Silver bullet
  • Slip
  • TEM
  • TPS Report
  • Then a miracle occurs
  • Ticket on the clue train
  • Tiger team
  • To the right
  • Triple D (dollars, date, deliverables)
  • Upside risk
  • Whack-a-mole

My personal favorites are three of the ones I’d never heard before; compound words that even if they didn’t mean a thing just sound great: consistify, arrivadodging and permalancing.

[1] Note that a few of the items in this list actually came from the comments in Scott Berkun’s similar blog post about the PMClinic thread. Of course, this is not meant to be a full list of every single bit of project management lingo ever uttered by any project manager anywhere. Have one that’s not here? Leave it in the comments.