War on management speak

Dizzy thinks (as spotted by Mark Pack) has noticed that back home, Stockport council have declared war on jargon, trying to reduce instances of management buzzwords in their website. This is an excellent initiative, but I’m worried there is some confusion over what is being achieved.

It’s a good move, but not for the reasons most seem to think. Jargon is language specific to an area of life which can easily be substituted by more everyday English. Technical language that can’t easily be understood by a moderately intelligent person and can’t easily be replaced by as many or fewer words in plain English is not jargon- it’s just technical language. To be jargon, a term must be both unnecessary and difficult to understand.

All but one of the phrases that are being eliminated are not jargon, but management speak. These are buzz-words repeated parrot fashion that are almost, but not quite, totally meaningless. Buzz words do not make you difficult to understand, but they do add little to what you say and make you look unimaginative, and unable to express yourself properly. People often think buzzwords make them look intelligent and capable, when the opposite is the case. The barriers created by buzz-words are not a problem of understanding, but in that they put the user into a separate social group to the reader.

At university we were told in management classes to avoid both jargon and buzzwords. Unfortunately 15 years later and there are people who haven’t cottoned on to the fact that parroting impressive phrases does not make you any brighter.

Management is not the only place we have buzz-words, you may notice from time to time the media and political circles of this country will latch on to a key phrase of the moment and repeat it add nausium. Past examples have been spin and sleaze.
Please, repeating the phrase of the moment does not help the message get across, it just makes you look foolish. Let’s all follow Stockport’s lead and try and eliminate buzzwords, so we can make the world a more friendly and imaginative place.


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