Office Speak: 110% – One hundred AND ten percent!

Take an apple and split it down the middle. On one side you have 50%, on the other side you have 50%. Put them back together and you have 100%.

Now go into the office and you’ll enter into a world with a different reality. In this world when you add everything together you get and extra 10%, you get 110%. I have no idea where this extra 10% comes from, but it’s made its way in somewhere:

We need to give this project 110%

Give me 110% on this activity

I’ve never heard 100% being used in the office, so it clearly doesn’t exist any more.

There are some people who live in yet another reality, in their world they get an extra 100%, in their reality they get 200% .

I’m giving this task 200%

Wow, 200%!

(This reality distortion also happens in sports field and arenas).

You could call me a quantitative pedant and point out that 110% (and 200%) is possible if you pick the right baseline. If 100% is the normal amount of effort that you might be expected to give, then 110% is a bit more than that baseline. If that were the case why would you bother asking for 110%. If the normal baseline was 100%, asking for 110% hardly seems worth the effort. How do you calibrate that your extra effort above the normal baseline is only 10% more effort?

Does asking for 110% really make a difference to the amount of effort that someone gives? Have you ever been told to give something 90%, or even 100%?

I can’t help thinking that I’m in a scene from Spinal Tap:

Why don’t you just make 10 louder

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