Industry Jargon: Consulting Edition

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Before you start your career search, it’s always a good idea to get some of the industry lingo under your belt. It might not seem that important, but it’s actually a crucial step in adapting to a new field.

Think of industry jargon like a language – if you’re not familiar with it, you might struggle to understand your boss’ instructions or even the expectations of the job. To help you put your best foot forward, here are some common Consulting concepts and phrases you should know!

“20,000 mile view”

When you’re flying in a plane and looking at the Earth from 20,000 miles up, you don’t see all the minute details, only the big picture. That image is the inspiration behind this expression. When a consultant uses this phrase, it means they only want a brief explanation of a situation that focuses on the main idea.

Ex: “What’s the 20,000 mile view on our latest project?”

“80/20 rule”

The 80/20 rules states that 20% of a problem’s cause drives 80% of the outcome. Consultants have a lot of competing priorities – similar to the ‘20,000 mile view,’ this expression means to focus on the most important part of a project.

Ex: “Let’s be more 80/20 on this analysis.”

“AOB”

This is an acronym that stands for “any other business” and it’s essentially the industry term for “miscellaneous.” When Consulting firms hold meetings, they usually set aside some time for “any other business” that falls outside of the main discussion.

Ex: “AOB we need to discuss at our next meeting?”

“Bandwidth”

This term refers to the amount of free time one has in their schedule to take on additional tasks or help others with their assignments. Usually, people refer to their bandwidth when they feel like they are overbooked or unable to take on more tasks. Consulting requires you to juggle many different assignments at a time, so it’s important to know how heavy a workload you can manage effectively.

Ex: “I don’t think I have any bandwidth in my schedule this week, but I can pick it up next week if that works.”

“Boil the ocean”

This term sounds pretty strange, but the meaning is quite simple. Trying to boil the ocean would be impossible no matter how much time or effort you put into it, right? Therefore, in Consulting, the phrase ‘boiling the ocean’ suggests that a certain task may involve a lot of work with little payoff, meaning it’s not worth the firm’s energy. This is usually a subtle way of saying “forget about this task – it’s best to just move on.”

Ex: “Let’s not boil the ocean with this task.”

“Elevator test”

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to define a process, product, service, organization, or person and its value. The summary should cover all the main points in the time it would take to ride in an elevator, generally a minute or less. In Consulting, the elevator test is a tactic that senior staffers use to see if an employee can explain a concept quickly and effectively. This is a way for employers to encourage a “work smart” mentality on the job – instead of going through all the details, it’s important for young consultants to be able to understand and highlight the critical points.

Ex: “We’re going to give John and Jane the elevator test today.”

“Rock star”

A rock star is a high performer in the company. They are usually unique, hardworking, and admired by their fellow employees. The term can also be used more generally to show appreciation for a certain behaviour, such as doing someone a favour.

Ex: “That rock star brought in twice the revenue we did!” or “You bought me a coffee? What a rock star!”

Want to learn more about Consulting? Check out our Career Guide here!

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