We are all on journeys, learning to improve. I'm mindful of how language affects how we work effectively together. I want to speak more precisely, but productively. "Being blunt" is not an excuse for being curt. These are some phrases in my own vocabulary that I have identified as requiring improvement. Listing these publicly is important to me, not only to clarify to myself why I want to improve on these words and phrases, but also to make a commitment (to the ether, I guess) to making the improvement.

I disagree

Now, "I see this differently". Conflict is an essential team dynamic as it surfaces differences in perspective. What is important is facilitating conflict to be funneled into something productive and progressive: conflict should be resolved with positive benefit to the team. Disagreements are entirely legitimate. Voicing them both requires, and is key to, psychological safety. Crucially, conflict shouldn't be made personal as that is where things get ugly. So, it's not that I'm disagreeing with you (although I am), it's that I see things differently. I'm focusing more on how we can resolve the tension, rather than putting the other person on the defensive.

Yes, and No

From my experience at the (role-playing) tabletop, I'm more inclined to use "Yes, and", or "No, but" now. As with above, this is about making sure we're swimming in the same direction and moving things along. Rather than stonewalling someone with a hard no, I will instead try follow up with a "but" and offer an alternative or next course of action. This applies to "yes, and" too. Build on good ideas, establish positive momentum!

The business

There isn't an exact replacement, but something along the lines of: "product", "operations", "analysts", "our business" (depending on context).

The idea of a separate unit being "the" business comes from the IT as a Cost Centre thinking, with service delivery contracts, functional silos and internal accounting wrangling. There are better words to use when referring to the perspectives of a person acting in a particular role (the Product Owner, or even use their name!). This change in language aims to prevent and discourage the development of Us Vs Them mentalities. Everyone is the business.

As Soon as Possible

As soon as possible can be coded for many things, but a generous interpretation is that something is needed immediately but not urgently. More: at your convenience, but very soon. I now prefer to be more specific regarding my expectations on the time boundary. If it's needed immediately, say so. Within the hour? Say so. It can be done any time today? You get what I mean. Furthermore, by communicating this expectation the recipient can reconcile this with their own workload and suggest an alternative path.

Command and Control

Command and control organisations are considered traditional top-down, hierarchical, managerialist working environments where employees have little agency and autonomy. It is in these places where waterfall management practices are rife.

I now prefer to remove the military metaphor and instead use "plan and execute". I do this because "command and control" is a pejorative and people on the command side (relative to those who they "control") get defensive about it, and themselves are controlled from a higher command. So, I feel "plan and execute" places more focus on the work and how we don it, rather than the people, whilst still accurately conveying the message of separating the thinking and doing.


They're people. With thoughts, feelings, concerns, dreams and families. I am not a number, I am a free man! Distilling people down to resources / work units / whatever other Taylorist term you can imagine is an abstract, inhumane way of organisation. Rather than bringing the work to the resources, bring the people to the work! Get them involved, get them motivated, listen to them. Treat people as people.


I'm not necessarily sure what to replace this with yet. And I think replacing it will be the most difficult just because of its usage as a noun. I'm going to try and speak more about agility, but less under the "Agile" umbrella. Maybe it's product economics, or technical practices, or whatever. It's not that Agile is Dead, it's that it's got too much emotional baggage. And that's clouding the message.


I'm editing this post as of 1st April 2022 to include this. Thanks, Murm, for reminding me of this one.

Previously I worked in a consultancy role who offered nearshoring services - which means the consultants are in (roughly) the same time zone, albeit in a secondary city to offer the benefits of lower salaries than a capital city. I'm not opposed to this business model, but I have concerns with the term, as with offshoring. It's Anglocentric (or maybe Western-centric), because "off"shore normally means India, or perhaps Eastern Europe at a push. It highlights that these people are somewhere else. That they're "off" and we're "on". I've seen superiority arguments about near versus offshoring which I've found uncomfortable and you can compute for yourself easily enough.

I don't want to use these terms any more. I might instead use the office name, but if there's a team name I'd use that. Anything to try and reduce the Us Vs Them mentality.