Ben (not his real name) goes to see his boss. He tells his boss that the new quota system is forcing unhealthy shortcutting of some of the key steps in the group’s work. This has resulted in missed or misdirected shipments, and more congestion in the transport hubs.

Ben’s boss responds:

“Ben, let me be clear about this: our number-one priority here at Suchard Logistics (not it’s real name) is customer satisfaction. It is our mission to fulfill the dreams of the people who ship with us, and our passion is happy customers. We are also 100% dedicated to providing shareholder value and the bottom line is part of the sacred journey. We pride ourselves on the efficiency and effectiveness of our carefully crafted business solutions. They are there to make our employees happy employees. I think I have answered your question. If there is anything else, anything at all, my door is always open.”

Why is the cliché such a culture killer? Two reasons: first is that clichés cover up incompetence or ignorance. The second is that the cliché is mostly a lie: “Our thoughts and prayers” is a lie. “We are passionate about” is a lie. “Win-win situation” is a lie. “Let me be clear about this” is a lie.

Clichés and good culture rarely are found in the same place because the cliché culture is governed by this culture-damaging unspoken rule:

Clichés are great: you can use them to avoid answering awkward questions.

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