As the holiday season approaches, it's time to think about how you are going to spend your time. Possibly you might want to learn a few key phrases like "please", "thank you", and "In my country, I am entitled to a phone call with my lawyer" that will help you to gain a deeper cultural connection with the locals.

So, if I can take the liberty of changing your summer plans. Let's imagine you intend to visit somewhere you have always wanted to visit. It is in fact somewhere, where you would eventually like to settle. Let's call this desired destination 'the boardroom'.

So let's look at a few key phrases that will help you gain acceptance with the locals:

"I like your KPIs."

Showing a real interest in what the locals care about is a sure fire way to developing a deep relationship. If you are keen to build strong long term relationships, then focus on what they care about, as opposed to what you care about.

"I love delivering more with less resources."

The locals, when it comes to outgoings, tend to embrace frugal capitalism. Showing you do too creates greatly commonality.

"Your 12-year-old daughter's suggestion to make our supply chain management system an app is an inspired suggestion and suggests she has a bright future ahead."

It is of course personally galling to know that the CEO's daughter has more influence over IT strategy than you. We mustn't dismiss the familial bonds that bind the locals together. Suggesting that she sketches a business application programming interface architecture, to show how this might be done in practice, could cause offence.

Here are a few phrases to avoid. If you look at any of the travel warning websites, such phrases have been known to lead to a hostile response, including deportation:

"Do you know that without me you wouldn't have a business?"

Nobody likes to be threatened. No matter how accurate the statement.

"Turn it off and turn it back on again."

Whilst you might find it personally irritating that the locals see you as a mere operative, they expect to witness some form of magic when they run into issues that justifies the salary bill.

"We are going to virtualise our IT function and deliver our services via the web."

The locals are less concerned about how their services are created. They simply want good service.

"You recall that I promised that the sales system would go live on Monday, ..."

It may seem boring to you, but the locals do not like surprises.


Whilst on the face of it the locals appears to be civil, this is one word they do not like to hear. They are proud people and do not like the implied confrontational nature of such a response. Some hapless visitors recall, on being bundled out of the door, how the locals spitefully chanted, "CI No", and, "There goes the guy that put the 'No' in innovation."

"Can I be in charge of the business transformation?"

This may in fact deepen your relationship with the locals. They will think you are a fun guy, what with your outlandish and hilarious notions. This, of course, is a non-starter until both you and your IT function have proved yourself to be trustworthy, and competent in respect of transformation.

Avoid the following words, as they can either cause offence or induce narcolepsy:

  • Project (better to use the word 'service').
  • Architecture (better to use 'model').
  • Vendor (You are responsible for the service, not the vendor).
  • Down (outage, crash and virus have a similar effect).

There are however certain words, which when sprinkled lavishly throughout your conversation will have people thinking you are a local. These include:

  • Profit.
  • Loss.
  • Balance sheet.
  • Risk.
  • Governance
  • Prison.

Use these words and you will be guaranteed the rapt attention of the locals.

Final caveat: The boardroom is a dangerous place. Visitors have been known to go missing. You are strongly advised to avoid travelling alone.