A la Carte - Technically à la carte, an eating-place menu from which individual dishes at separate prices can be ordered, or less commonly where a side dish may be ordered at no extra charge, from the French phrase meaning 'to the menu'. Increasingly now applied to non-food services in which individual selections are offered rather than fixed provisions.
A1 - Top quality rating, applicable to various business situations, e.g., credit-worthiness, and more general references to quality and fitness for purpose.
Abilene Paradox - Observed in many poor or daft decisions by groups or committees, in which the collective (unanimous or group) decision is considered silly by individual members. From Jerry B Harvey's book The Abilene Paradox and other Meditations on Management (Jossey-Bass, 1988): a family decide to go to Abilene, as suggested by someone believing others might want to go, though he had no strong personal view. The trip was a waste of time, after which it emerged that no-one wanted to go. The effect can also apply in elections and especially tactical voting, whereby the collective effect produces an outcome nobody wants. The 'group-decision' effect may be likened to the expressions 'designed by committee' and 'a camel is a horse designed by a committee', both of which seek to illustrate that group decisions typically produce daft outcomes.
Above The Fold - Originally a newspaper editorial/advertising term referring to the upper-half of the front page ('above the fold') in terms of its immediate and optimal viewing viewing position. More recently 'above the fold' has been adopted and adapted for use in internet terminology, where it refers to the upper section of a webpage that is viewable without scrolling down the page. 'Above the fold' is therefore a reference to the best (most read) position in online/printed media such that it commands highest demand/prices for editorial/advertising. It is by its nature a rather loose term, dependent on the publication itself, and especially given the different screen sizes and page layouts for content viewable online using PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc.
Above The Line - Marketing and advertising through mass-media, such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, Internet, etc., which is less personal than Below The Line Marketing. Companies usually use advertising agencies for ATL marketing. See marketing.
Abram's Law - Construction industry theory relating to concrete strength as determined by the ratio of water to cement.
Absolute Advantage - Being able to produce goods more cheaply than other countries.
Abstract - A brief summary covering the main points of a written article or research project.
Accelerator - A company which supplies office space, marketing services, etc., in exchange for payment, to help get new companies started.
Acceptance Bonus - The amount paid to an employee who agrees to perform a difficult task.
Accessibility - Refers to the ease by which an audience is able to receive, understand and act upon communications and services from businesses, big corporations, agencies, local and central government. Accessibility is a relatively modern concept, becoming increasingly prominent from the late 1900s, especially concerning state services, and particularly for disadvantaged, disabled, or minority groups of people. The concept and central principles of accessibility are however very relevant and important for all communicators, on a personal and organizational level. Major factors of accessibility include: language and grammar style, translation (where required), font/print size, typeface/font style, design, technical ease (relating to electronic media), media types/versions (web, print, audio, video, as required), timings and availability of information, detail and complexity, esoterica, gobbledegook, legalese. See writing tips.
Accounts - An individual's or company's financial records. Also an arrangement to keep money with a financial institution, e.g., a bank, building society, etc. Seefinancial terms.
Accretion - Growth or increase in the value or amount of something. Seefinancial terms.
Accrual - The accumulation of payments or benefits over time.
Across The Board - The involvement of, or affect on, everyone or everything in an industry or company.
Activity-Based Costing - An accounting/business term and method of profitability analysis which calculates and includes all business costs attributable to (used by) a particular business activity (typically a service provision of one sort or another for a given market). Conventional accounting tends not to allocate fixed/indirect costs per activity, which creates risks of overheads not being adequately recovered, or overheads being drained or over-burdened by one activity or another (the activity concerned thereby seeming a lot more profitable than it actually is, quite aside from the negative effects on other activities which may be starved of essential indirect support). The Activity-Based Costing (ABC) method analyses and allocates fixed/indirect costs according to usage by services, and so brings far greater transparency and clarity to inform strategic decision-making. In large organizations Activity-Based Costing tends to require quite complex computerized systems, and in very large organizations the allocation of overheads implicit within the ABC approach may generate significant political/departmental conflict, especially where staff productivity/profitability targets and rewards depend on the outcomes.
Actuals - Real costs, sales, etc., that have occurred, rather than estimations or expectations.
Added Value - Enables and justifies a profit in business.
Addendum - An added section of information in a letter or report.
Ad hoc - Created or done for a particular purpose as necessary and not planned in advance.
Adjunct - A thing which is added or attached as a supplementary, rather than an essential part of something larger or more important.
Adoption Curve - A graph showing the rate at which a new piece of technology is bought by people for the first time. It is based on the idea that certain people are more open for adaptation than others.
Ad Rotation - Describes the rotation of advertisements on a web page - each time a user clicks on a different page or returns to a page they've viewed previously in the same session, a different advert appears on the screen.
Adverse Event - Term used when a volunteer in a clinical trial has a negative or unfavourable reaction to a drug, etc.
Advertising - The promotion and selling of a product or service to potential customers. To announce publicly or draw attention to an event, etc.
Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - The UK self-regulatory body funded by the advertising industry for ensuring that all advertising adheres to ASA standards, notably not to offend or mislead people.
Equivalents named the same exist in other countries.
Advertorial - An advert in a magazine or newspaper that is written like an article giving facts rather than appearing as an advertisement for a product.
Affidavit - A sworn signed statement of fact used as evidence in court whose signature has been witnessed by a commissioner of oaths or other authorised officer, for example a notary. Medieval Latin for 'he has stated on oath', from affidare, meaning to trust.
Affiliate - A company or person controlled by or connected to a larger organisation. In web marketing an affiliate normally receives a commission for promoting another company's products or services.
Ageism - Unfair prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age.
Aggregate - A whole consisting of the combination of smaller separate elements.
Aggregate Planning - The process of planning and developing the best way of producing the right amount of goods, at the right time and at the minimum cost, based on the total number of items which need to be produced, and the amount of materials, equipment and workers necessary for production.
Aggressive Growth Fund - A high risk investment fund in which shares are expected to increase in value very quickly in the hope of making large profits.
Agile Development Method - A type of business development which gets things moving quickly and adapts during the development, as distinct from conventional planning and project management implementation.
Agio - The percentage charged by a bank for exchanging one form of currency or money, into another that is more valuable.
Agitprop - Political propaganda (published ideas designed to motivate people into certain political views or actions) typically in art, music, literature, etc., aportmanteau word combining the original Russian words agitsiya (agitation) and propoganda, where the term grew from the state department responsible for disseminating communist ideas and information to its people in the 1930s. In the west the term is more associated with publication of left-wing or socialist ideas, often targeted against a governing right-wing authority.
Agribusinesss - Farming industry on a large corporate scale.
AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, Action - an early and fundamentally useful model/process for effective communications. Also called the 'hierarchy of effects' - we all buy things, and decide to change something, after passing through these four key stages. (See AIDA in sales training materials)
A-list - A list of the most celebrated or sought-after companies or individuals, especially in show business and entertainment.
Alpha Test - The first stage of testing a new product, especially computer software or hardware, carried out by a developer under controlled conditions.
Amalgamate - When two or more companies combine or unite to form one large organisation.
Amortize - To gradually reduce and write off the cost of an asset in a company's accounts over a period of time.
Anchor Tenant - The first and most prestigious tenant, typically a store in a shopping centre, that will attract other tenants or shoppers.
Ancillary Staff - People who provide necessary support to the primary activities and work of an organization, e.g: schools, hospitals.
Annuity - Often used to provide a pension. An annuity is a fixed regular payment payed over a number of years to a person during their lifetime.
Antediluvian - An interesting and humorous metaphorical description of something (for example a product or service or concept) that is obsolete, old-fashioned or primitive, or devised a long time ago.
'Ante' is Latin for 'before', and 'diluvian' is from Latin 'diluvium' meaning 'deluge', so the overall literal meaning is 'before the flood', being the biblical flood and Noah's Ark, etc. Antediluvian is therefore a clever way to say that something is (so old as to be) 'out of the Ark'.
Anthropomorphic/anthropomorphism/anthropomorphous - also called personification - this refers to giving human characteristics to an non-human thing, such as an animal, or a tree, or the Sun, Moon, a god, cartoon character, etc., for dramatic, visual, metaphorical, and amusing effect, etc. It's a very very old concept. Anthropomorphic characterizations have been found on ancient scuptures dating back more than 30,000 years. The word is Greek, originally from athropos, human, and morphe, form.
Appellant - A person appealing to a higher court against a decision of a lower court or other decision-making body.
Apple Box - Used in films, TV, etc. Wooden boxes of various sizes which are used to elevate actors and celebrities.
Appraisal - A review of performance, capability, needs, etc., typically of an employee, in which case the full term is normally 'performance appraisal'.
Arbiter - A person who settles a dispute or has the ultimate authority to decide the outcome of a matter.
Arbitrator - An independent person or body officially appointed to settle a dispute.
Archive/Archives - A collection of records no longer active. Also pluralised - archives - meaning the same, and referring to the place of storage.
Articles Of Association - The document which lists the regulations which govern the running of a company, setting out the rights and duties of directors and stockholders, individually and in meetings.
Aspirational Brand - A brand or product which people admire and believe is high quality, and wish to own because they think it will give them a higher social position.
Assets - Anything of value which is owned by an individual, company, organisation, etc.
Asset Stripping - Buying a stricken company and selling off its assets with no thought for the future of the company or its people, customers, etc.
Atmosphere - In films, TV, etc., a general crowd of people, extras.
Attrition - The process of reducing the number of employees in an organisation by not replacing people who leave their jobs.
Auditor - A qualified person who officially examines the financial records of a company to check their accuracy.
Auteur - An artist or creative, for example a film director, whose personal style is recognizable because he/she keeps tight control over all aspects of the work.
Autocratic - Offensively self-assured or given to exercising unwarranted power. Expecting to be obeyed and not caring about the opinions and feeling of others. See X-Y Theory.
AV - Anti-Virus, a common abbreviation referring to virus protection software/services for computer and internet use.
Avant Garde - New or original and often unconventional techniques, concepts, products, etc, usually associated with the arts and creative areas.
Average Daily Rate - In the hotel industry a calculation of the average price at which a hotel room is booked each night based on total daily revenue divided by the number of rooms sold. The term may have more general meanings in other contexts.
Avatar - An identity, often in cartoon form, which can be chosen from a selection or created by the person using it to represent themselves in a website chatroom, etc.
The use of this material is free provided copyright (see below) is acknowledged and reference or link is made to the www.businessballs.com website. This material may not be sold, or published in any form. Disclaimer: Reliance on information, material, advice, or other linked or recommended resources, received from Alan Chapman, shall be at your sole risk, and Alan Chapman assumes no responsibility for any errors, omissions, or damages arising. Users of this website are encouraged to confirm information received with other sources, and to seek local qualified advice if embarking on any actions that could carry personal or organizational liabilities. Managing people and relationships are sensitive activities; the free material and advice available via this website do not provide all necessary safeguards and checks. Please retain this notice on all copies.
© Businessballs 2009-2014