BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Corporate speak: ‘blue-sky thinking’ means having ideas which are very original, even if they’re not practical or realistic, ‘to push the envelope’ means to go even further than others and do things that might be new or risky or even dangerous.
Li’s boss told her to do some ‘blue-sky thinking’ and to ‘push the envelope’. She is very confused. Luckily Finn is there to help.
Finn: Hi Li. I didn’t see you in the canteen today. I brought you a sandwich.
Li: That’s very kind of you, Finn. I had to go and buy these…
Finn: An envelope and a nice picture of a sunny beach?
Li: It’s the sky, Finn. My boss told me that we need blue-sky thinking and we need to push the envelope if we want to succeed in the current market.
Finn: Oh, right. And what are you going to do with this envelope, and this picture, Li?
Li: Well, the beach has a blue-sky… so maybe I need to push it into the envelope… and send it to… the clients? I’m not sure.
Finn: Li, I think what he wants has nothing to do with the sky or envelopes. These are two expressions people use in business nowadays. It’s corporate language – or as we say, corporate speak.
Li: What do they mean?
Finn: Well, in English, ‘blue-sky thinking’ means having ideas which are very original, even if they’re not practical or realistic. Your boss wants you to be creative.
Li: And what do I do with this envelope?!
Finn: Well, the expression ‘to push the envelope’ means to go even further than others and do things that might be new or risky or even dangerous! That’s: push the envelope.
Li: But why didn’t he just say: be creative?
Finn: Well, the world of business has its own special terms. Let’s hear some examples of how to use these two expressions in today’s The English We Speak.
- It’s all about blue-sky thinking right now; mobile phones are no longer just for calls!
- We’re not just a normal airline. We’re going to push the envelope and offer balloon flights.
Li: Oh, so all my boss wants is for me to have ideas which are new and brave. What about your boss, Finn?
Finn: Well, my line manager told me this morning: “I expect you to think out of the box. If you don’t step up to the plate by end of play you’ll have to face the music.”
Li: What on earth does he mean, Finn?!
Finn: I really have no idea. I think we’d need another four programmes to explain those examples of corporate speak. Another time. I’m tired just thinking about it. Bye.
The English We Speak – Corporate speak Transcript Video
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