Business Lingo Explained: “Needs Work” / “In Good Shape”

Business Lingo Explained: “Needs Work” / “In Good Shape”

Unless you have the bluest of blue collars, or actually sell actual products to human beings, chances are your job revolves around some kind of project(s).  In investment banking, these were called “pitch books” or “books,” in management consulting I believe they’re called “client presentations” or “snake oil brochures” and in engineering they’re probably just called “projects.”  These things are typically some kind of powerpoint presentation explaining some great money-making idea or otherwise justifying your team’s existence.   Once you finish one, you move on to another; you are likely working on a few such projects at a time.

Given the time of year, newly scrubbed analysts and associates at Wall Street firms are graduating from training and entering the full-fledged holla balla workforce.  I thought there would be some benefit to explaining how project statuses work before the rose-colored glasses become too jaundiced.  First off, one would logically assume there is a spectrum of project statuses that runs from, say, “barely started” to “almost finished.”  In actuality, this is a binary situation: the only two alternatives are “needs work” and “in good shape.”  Upon hearing word of the project’s status from the senior team member, analysts and associates are often elated or devasted at the news, with little understanding of the nuances that distinguish the two situations.  Allow me to explain.


“Needs Work”


Except in the Wall Street case, anything probably doesn't really help
Except in the Wall Street case, anything probably doesn't really help

Summary:  You are pretty fucked; expect guffaws from your request to have dinner with your 90 year old grandparents (in town from Idaho solely to have ALS treatment and to get a last glimpse of their only grandson).

Nervousness Level:  Cuban Missile Crisis

Jargon From:  Barbarians at the Gate

Team Mood:  Zero levity will be tolerated – this pitch could make the year for us!

What You’ll Have for Lunch:  Choice of entrees from the vending machine.  (I recommend Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips and a Snickers, that shit will keep you going for a six-seven hour burst)

Time Required to Complete:  Subtract 15 minutes from the time until the deadline.  This is the amount of time you will be “turning” the document.  (Note: If deadline is actually a false deadline, further calculation required, but that information will be needed from dick who implemented the false deadline in the first place.)



“In Good Shape”

Get used to the smoke blowing....
Get used to the smoke blowing....

Summary:  You are generally fucked; expect to have your bachelor party (that had been “on the calendar” since the day you joined the firm) interrupted several times by quick conferences calls to discuss how to make the document formating really pop.

Nervousness Level:  Salman Rushdie at a falafel cart

Jargon From:  Any Given Sunday

Team Mood:  A handful of jokes can be made at the expense of the most junior team member (during down time ONLY – like while waiting for someone to bring in hard copies or as people are dialing into a conference call.  ENSURE the mute button is on before saying anything off-topic, for your own sake)

What You’ll Have for Lunch:  You might be able to ram/jam a Subway foot long at your desk while cranking through some espn.com.  (I actually recommend a six inch sub with double meat as the extra carbs can haunt you too much during the interminable afternoon conference calls.  But I’ll call it a foot long because I know that’s what you’re gonna do anyway.  At least for the first few times.)

Time Required to Complete:  Subtract 63 minutes from the time until the deadline.  This is the amount of time you will be “turning” the document.  (Note: Same false deadline rules apply.)


There are worlds of difference between the two statuses.  Don’t be dismayed by all the “needs work” you’re gonna face in the early days – that’s the way it will likely remain until you are the one doling out the assignments.


Chilly17, totally aware this website needs work


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