If you are hearing this at work, you should probably get your resume in order. You or your company are in trouble and it won’t go away. You are experiencing a modern replay of the old tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
In late 2001, I used to hear this expression about once a week from my management at Sun Microsystems.
Since my job as a senior project manager was to resolve difficult situations as they were encountered, I found it odd to be told that certain areas of inquiry were off limits. Interestingly enough, as time went on, more and more areas were put off limits to discussion. Finally, Sun began layoffs. The first 400 to go included those of us who had been asking embarrassing questions. Shortly thereafter, Sun laid off another 4000 people. Many more have been laid off since then. I understand that the phrase, “Dont go there!” is still used frequently, so I would expect that the layoffs will continue.
I feel that preventing any discussion of problem areas is like turning off a distracting carbon monoxide detector. It doesn’t solve anything and almost guarantees that a disaster will occur. I had seen this kind of behavior at other companies and it was invariably followed by a major change in the fortunes of the company. Taligent and Sun are recent examples. IBM is well known for this also. I am sure there are others.
If you have never heard this phrase and have no idea what I’m talking about, you are unusually fortunate!