"Taking a bio-break from boiling the ocean" was one of the phrases I came across while leafing through the book Business Bullshit by André Spicer. It jumped out at me from the page because a day or two earlier I had heard someone in a meeting say "It's not as if we need to boil the ocean", and that was the first time I'd heard the expression. I think boil the ocean means 'to do too much at once', although I might be wrong.
Shortly afterwards I saw that André Spicer had written an article in The Guardian (here, and it's an interesting read). One fascinating story he recounts is that of Kroning, which was a training programme devised by the business organisational consultant Charles Krone. In 1984 the telephone company Pacific Bell decided to implement Krone's ideas in order to change the mindset of its employees. Krone had taken his ideas from the early 20th-century mystic George Gurdjieff, and employees were exposed to language such as mental energy, alignment, intentionality and end-state visions in order, supposedly, that they would be transported to a level of heightened corporate consciousness. Not surprisingly, the experiment failed, with employees complaining that there were more meetings, things took much longer, and that staff who were less than enthusiastic were forced out. The creator of the cartoon strip about a micro-managed office, Dilbert, whose real name is Scott Adams, was a programmer at Pacific Bell at the time and found the environment a rich source of inspiration.
Kroning might have been forgotten about but, as Spicer says, the gobbledygook of management-speak has only got worse; these days, for instance, we have ideation, imagineering, inboxing and getting our friends in the tent. As Spicer notes, with each change (and change is very frequent in most companies and industry sectors these days) new bullshit is needed. Moreover, where once business bullshit or corporate claptrap was confined to company meeting rooms, it has now trickled out into all aspects of life, which explains why even kids at school talk of non-negotiable deliverables.
The article on business bullshit, which also looks at the development of business culture since the late 18th century, is here.