Office Speak: Cadence

Why do words and phrases seep into the psyche of an organisation? It’s a question that has puzzled me for some time.

One word that has recently become the ‘in word’ is: Cadence.

I have no idea where it came from and I had assumed it was one of our internal words. Recently I’ve heard it used by other people in other organisations so decided that it’s use must have become more widespread, though not commonplace. One of my tests of whether something is office-speak or normal-speak is to ask Sue (my wife) if she knows what it means. When she looks blank I know that I’ve spent too long on conference calls.

Cadence has a several meanings, all of them point towards rhythm or repetition:

  1. Rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words:the cadence of language.

  2. (in free verse) A rhythmic pattern that is nonmetrically structured.

  3. The beat, rate, or measure of any rhythmic movement: The chorus line danced in rapid cadence.

  4. The flow or rhythm of events, especially the pattern in which something is experienced:the frenetic cadence of modern life.

  5. A slight falling in pitch of the voice in speaking or reading, as at the end of a declarative sentence.

  6. The general modulation of the voice.

  7. Music. a sequence of notes or chords that indicates the momentary or complete end of a composition, section, phrase, etc.

None of these meanings relate directly to the way it’s used in my world. It’s normally used in a phrase similar to this:

We need a regular cadence for these meetings

Previously we would have used the word schedule, but over the last 12 to 18 months this appears to have been superseded by cadence. I have no idea why we decided to change, but change we have. Perhaps there’s an interesting social experiment that could be created to understand why groups of people change the words that they use.

There’s a couple of terms I’m still struggling with:

  • Cost wire-brushing
  • Bamboo connection point

Any ideas?

2 thoughts on “Office Speak: Cadence”

  1. cost scrubbing = Cost wire-brushing – the auditing of costs that goes deeper and goes beyond the service (using a wire brush is far more harsh than just scrubbing).
    Bamboo connection point = strong bond which links all of the solution together making a stable structure.


  2. Cadence was something I was always taught by my old man, came about from pre-ABS braking systems – “cadence braking” brakes on/off/on off, to minimise loss of traction.

    Interestingly, the principle here is great and works but brain has to work in a special way to let off the middle pedal when the car in front of you is stationary and you are not! Despite all of the common sense to the contrary. maybe cadence just means a nice plan of regular frequency/rhythm but reality of continuous and ineffective/inefficient results :o)


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