Business and Management Terminology

If you are working in any type of organization -- small, medium or large - you will need to have a good understanding of standard management terminology -- what it means and how it is properly used. You will also need to know how to write the various types of management statements and documents that most businesses work with.

That is the entire purpose of this page and the 15 or so pages it links to on this subject. I want to minimize the confusion and misunderstanding that often surrounds this subject and give you a clear understanding of the various terms and some tips on how to write these statements and documents.

Guidelines For the Use of Standard Management Terminology In An Organization
In one of my previous incarnations, I spent more than 12 years as the senior manager responsible for corporate policy development and strategic planning in a medium-size public sector organization.

One of the things that I noticed from the beginning was the way that the careful and deliberate use of management terms seemed to carry a lot of weight in the bureaucracy. It seemed that all of the "in the know" high flyers spoke using a secret lexicon of magical bureaucratic terms that gave them immediate credibility. I'm talking about terms like vision, mission, goals, objectives, strategies, results, policies, guidelines, directives, standards, procedures, performance evaluation, and the like.

After a while I also noticed that there seemed to be a lot of confusion as to "exactly" what many of these terms that were flying around actually meant; and how they related to one another. In fact, all you had to do to see this was to attend a few of our management meetings, or read some of our management memos or policy documents and the obvious confusion became excruciatingly clear. It was actually embarrassing at times for some senior management folks when their own ignorance and confusion became evident in public.

So, after a couple of years observing this situation, my big boss and I had a private conversation about this problem in which he asked me to develop a lexicon of management terminology with clear definitions that we could adopt as an organizational standard.

Developing such a standard took me quite a bit of research, including referring to numerous business management and organizational behavior texts, as well as consulting with my peers in other organizations. I believe that this process guided me to develop a logical hierarchy of management terms and matching definitions that can be easily adopted by any organization, large, medium or small.

The reason for developing these guidelines in the first place was to eliminate the confusion that often exists in organizations regarding the usage, meaning and relativity of management terminology used in organizations, in both oral and written communication.

My in-depth research into this subject revealed that there are two overall categories or groupings of management terminology, as summarized below.

  1. Management Terms
    The six(6) key management terms included in this first group are all used to describe the priorities, activities and outputs of an organization. Theses terms are: vision, mission, objectives, goals, strategies and results. The following page elaborates on this hierarchy in more detail.

  2. Organizational Facilitators
    The second group of terms is made up of five(5) "facilitators" which are actual tools or instruments used by an organization to implement the organizational imperatives that are specified by the hierarchy of management terms above. These management facilitators are: policies, guidelines, directives, procedures and standards. These are described in more detail on the following page:
The two linking pages listed above contain short definitions for each term, followed by links to individual pages for each one that contain: additional background on the term, examples of how to use the term, and tips on how to write the statements or documents that support the term being described.

Bottom Line:
As I stated above, I spent a lot of time researching this lexicon of terms and facilitators. Although other approaches do exist, I believe that this one embodies a certain logic and symmetry that can be employed by any type of organization, large or small, in defining, executing, and evaluating its corporate mandate and activities.

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