Alarm Bell Phrase

Definition :

Somewhat related to KillerPhrases.

Phrases that set off AlarmBells, and are somewhat related to KillerPhrases.

AlarmBellPhrases from the Marketing Department:

Wait - does this mean that pointy-haired management babble is TheEvilThatLurksInTheHeartsOfMen?

Yes. This manager also expressed confidence in something called "implementing the final solution" ... -- LC.

What a coincidence! I was just at a process issues meeting. The senior manager spoke about a "final solution" as well. Do we work at the same company or do our pointies read the same books?

Perhaps you should call the Mossad the next time you hear it...

If I hear another MarketingDroid or consultant use the word "space" to describe a market niche, I will puke.

Do it on his Guccis.

Why? Doesn't "niche" simply mean "small space"? it's not a marketer's fault that the english language lacks words specific to 21st scentury commerce.

Then why not say "niche"? Or does the marketer want to describe a big space - in which case it's not a niche after all?

All these AlarmBellPhrases worry me. It seems like almost anything a person says to you should set off the Alarm. Are there any NonAlarmBellPhrases? -- ThaddeusOlczyk

It does not necessarily mean they are for sure wrong or clueless, it is just a Proceed-With-Caution warning. Perhaps YellowAlertPhrases? would be a better name. "Alarm bell" sounds like a red alert.

[All of these alarms are context sensitive as well. Watch yersef, dude.]

For me, nearly any ManagerSpeak is an alarm bell -- using "challenge" for "problem," for instance. Problems are the be-all and end-all of engineering, and nobody should denigrate them.

"Houston, we have a challenge" would not have saved the 3 on board Apollo 13; a "problem," however, makes a true engineer ready to tackle the world, because WE EXIST TO REMOVE PROBLEMS! -- Pete Hardie

Same goes for "opportunity." I always like to refer to it as a big, steaming pile of opportunity.

OTOH, I used to know a stage manager who produced really big shows. One of the shows he worked on had government bureaucrats involved. Whenever anyone said on the radio "We've got a problem here" the bureaucrats would flock to the location and get in the way, causing more problems then they were solving. The techs quickly learned to say "I have an opportunity here..." -- Jim Hyslop

AlarmBellPhrases from Doctors: (and now TSA)

See also:

AlarmBellPhrases from Management:

What is alarming about this phrase?

It means that the company is a dictatorship. This statement can be given with a smile or a snarl, but if it's given with a smile the first day you're there, the company might actually be a good place to work. It's an exceptional leader who can say this without inspiring fear.

To try to answer my own question: In PeopleWare, they mention how many different things people label as "politics". Ultimately, people use it to describe any sociological aspect of a project. Maybe the person who finds the phrase, "There are no politics here," to be alarming has heard it used to mean, "We are going to ignore the sociological aspect. (And we'll do it my way, regardless of your feedback, thanks!)". Could this be what they meant? Partly, yes. In the particular case I have in mind, the company was actually rife with under-the-table (and sometimes under-handed) political maneuvering. But because the company "had no politics" there was no above-board way to acknowledge the political realities.

Similar AlarmBellPhrases are "We have a flat organizational structure" or "We don't have titles around here", which signify that no-one really knows who is responsible for anything.

Paraphrasing GeraldWeinberg:

"Who" answers for "What" and "How" questions:

HaHaOnlySerious. I recently experienced an introduction to this, except 'Frank' was also a contractor!! -- ChadThompson

Did we mention that Frank answers all questions in mystical riddles? He also works from 10 PM to 3 AM three days a week, and never answers email.

And why the heck wouldn't he? What are they going to do about it ... FireHim?? BWAHAHAHA! I'd do exactly the same in his shoes.

"We might re-architect this project."

Try this interpretation: This piece of crap was thrown together and released. One day, if we have the time, we might work out how it's supposed to work, and rewrite it properly.

AlarmBellPhrases during interviews:

For me X was (and still is) java. All program are still in C/C++ and the company just start a project in COM!!!

Each time I get caught by this one, I say, NEVER AGAIN. Java, Windows versions, migrate to C++, depending on the era. Usually said at a company with 10 year old technology that will never upgrade because the current system is too profitable. And, remember the current employees have already formed a queue to start using Technology X, so make your way to the back of the queue please.

Uh-oh -- several of these phrases (from managers and clients) have shown up for my current project!

Run away! Run away!

<"Retreat," sir!>


"We're going to have an impromptu company wide meeting in a few minutes. Margaret could you block the fire escape please" -- LeonBambrick

Also: "Hey Jim, is the network down? I was hoping to check my mail before the all-hands meeting..."

AlarmBellPhrases In Documentation

AlarmBellPhrases From Human Resources

How's this for a job listing? ''...Someone that knows their area of expertise, professional, is a go getter, and doesn't gossip. Environment:

Per StickToYourGuns, would attempts to lower the stress levels be dealt with harshly and ruthlessly?

Or how about this one (for the position StickToYourGuns vacated):

"This position requires a highly motivated self-starter who has an excellent track record of accomplishments."

Translation: We need a loner CowBoy who cuts corners, and who doesn't have the "wrong" accomplishments on their track record.

AlarmBellPhrases From Comments in SourceCode (see also: FunnyThingsSeenInSourceCodeAndDocumentation

 /** This class was generated by a wizard */
 /** This method was auto-generated by a wizard */

Or my favorite: //** I don't know why this works **//

CompoundNoun?s of four words or more: "Development Integration Process Methodology".

"Process" and "Methodology" as consecutive words.

"On this project, failure is not an option"

It must be a certainty then.

See: AlarmBells, MicrosoftAlarmBellPhrases, NonAlarmBellPhrases, WarningSignsOfCorporateDoom, AlarmBellPhrasesOnTheJob, BuzzwordBingo, SignsOfSuspiciousTechFads

CategoryJargon, CategoryOrganizationalAntiPattern

EditText of this page (last edited October 1, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search