The Local Government Association has published a list of jargon terms it wants banned. It has sent a list to local councils of words and phrases it wants them to stop using.
“And about time!” was my first reaction to this, and that was reinforced when I saw the list. I’ve always felt that spin belongs on the cricket field and not in the workplace.
Tony Collins has more on this including a list of offending words and phrases on his IT Projects blog at Computer Weekly. If this desire on the part of the LGA has its intended effect, no longer will people in office meetings be able to play what I’ve been led to believe is called “Bull**** Bingo”. That is the game where you write down a list of certain management and business phrases and, just like in a bingo game, you cross off a particular word or phrase when it is used, shouting “House!” when you have crossed off everything on your list.
Now shouting “House!” isn’t really a good idea in meetings – it marks you out for one thing – so usually a cough or a sneeze is regarded as the equivalent of shouting “House!”. So I’m led to understand.
I’m not against the use of jargon. I’m a techie and jargon is part of that which we do (demystifying and simplifying jargon is something I’m pretty good at, even if I do say so myself) because of the nature of IT. In some sectors there is a specialist language and jargon; it’s not that which I see as being the problem. It’s the proliferation of some of these jargon phrases within business and management generally, which can be (and in my experience sometimes are) used to hide things or generally confuse people that is the problem.
Here are a few of the words on the list (the ones that irritate me most) followed by LGA’s suggested alternatives.
Actioned – do
Ambassador – leader
Autonomous – independent
Beacon – leading light
Blue sky thinking – thinking up ideas
Bottom-Up – listening to people
Can do culture – get the job done
Cascading – why use at all?
Challenge – problem
Cohesiveness – together
Commissioning – buy
Contestability – Why use at all?
Core developments – main things that are happening
Core Message – main point
Core principles – beliefs
Core Value – belief
Coterminosity – all singing from the same hymn sheet
Coterminous – all singing from the same hymn sheet
Cross-fertilisation – spreading ideas
Direction of travel – way forward
Downstream – Why use at all?
Facilitate – help
Flex – Why use at all?
Gateway review – Why use at all?
Going forward – in the future
Holistic governance – Why use at all?
Horizon scanning – Why use at all?
Incentivising – incentive
Interface – talking to each other
Joined up – working together
Outcomes – results
Overarching – Why use at all?
Paradigm – Why use at all?
Potentialities – chances
Predictors of Beaconicity – Why use at all?
Process driven – shouldn’t everything be people driven?
Promulgate – spread
Quantum – Why use at all?
Rebaselining – Why use at all?
Seedbed – idea
Slippage – delay
Symposium – meeting
Synergies – what use at all?
Tested for Soundness – what works
Thinking outside of the box – Why use at all?
Top-Down – ignores people
Tranche – slice
Transformational – change
Vision – ideal/dream/belief
Visionary – ideal/dream/belief
Most of these sound just like the kind of stuff that Gus Hedges from comedy show Drop The Dead Donkey would say. You think I’m joking? Take a look at this quotes page from the show and see for yourself.
Ambassador? Blue sky thinking? Coterminosity? Promulgate? Seedbed? Tested for soundness? Dear me, what language do people who use these phrases speak?
Predictors of beaconosity has to take the lamb kebab (thanks to David Leggatt for that phrase) for the most complete and utter garbage business phrase.
Discussing this reminds me of a joke I heard on Drop The Dead Donkey. From memory it goes like this: Dave Charnley is discussing someone…
Dave Charnley: “We called him Jockstrap”
Damien Day: “Why did you call him Jockstrap?”
Dave Charnley: “Because he was full of b*ll*cks!”
That seems an appropriate way to end this post