You're going to b-school…now what?
Random header image... Refresh for more!

MBA WordPlay: Order of Magnitude

This post is part of a continuing series of words and phrases that you’re likely to hear in b-school, but may not be familiar with.

“Order of Magnitude”

Officially, order of magnitude has to with estimating something within a power of 10, but in the business sense, it’s often used to describe an estimate that is within a range that allows for meaningful discussion and decision-making.

Some interesting discussion on the phrase can be found here. (Thanks, Hoover’s!)

Like this feature?  Hate it?  Current MBAs, have some phrases or words you wish you knew before you got to school?  Let me know by posting a comment below or getting in touch.

  • Matt F

    The word I see everywhere is “utilize.” It’s “use.” To utilize something is to employ it for other than its intended purpose. As in, “I had no surgical instruments, so I utilized a clean steak knife to perform an emergency tracheotomy.” The way most people say it, such as “Please utilize the attached form to record your tax information” is incorrect. In that case, you’re using the form for its intended purpose.

    There is also a sense in which “utilize” can be used to describe a metric or statistic, such as “the rate of utilization of capital equipment,” but that is a semi-technical term that doesn’t apply to most of the misuse the poor word suffers.

    In short, its an overused and misapplied buzzword that people employ in official correspondence. Once you realize this, you’ll see it everywhere.

    • Andrew

      Matt — Very true and thanks for the comment. If you’re headed to b-school (or are already there), you’ll see that there are lots of words that people use because they think they sound more important or educated. But ironically, those “big sounding” words don’t actually fit the context, and, in some cases, they aren’t even real words (i.e. “impactful”). We may be onto another whole category of posts here…