George Appleton shares his views on corporate management speak
Heads up everyone. When did our corporate world become over run with blue sky thinking? Are you fed up receiving cascading emails from your line manager who is just touching base about going forward? Or are you unsure about an upcoming meeting regarding the pre-plan for next year’s objectives plan? In the Urban Dictionary, the definition of psychobabble bullsh#t is as follows: ‘anytime someone says something totally ridiculous and you just wish they would shut up’. Hear, hear.
In a previous incarnation, I worked for an organisation that communicated in just such terms. It was nauseating receiving emails describing the positive energy in the room during the last meeting. Likewise, sitting through meetings deciding what their mission statement should be. There were meetings to decide what should be discussed at the forthcoming meeting, and meetings to discuss what came out of the last meeting. In the meantime, nobody was able to get on with any actual work because they were all stuck in… meetings.
A friend who works for another similar organisation (which unfortunately shall also remain nameless) speaks of the same culture there. Apparently, they’re big on bonding days where the theme is Future, Engage, Deliver, because apparently: leadership starts in the future – work that one out if you can. At one such meeting, employees were asked to give their opinions about how the company was performing. But, as their boss was sitting in the room with them at the time, they were asked to do it in a metaphorical theme of the sea, with the company being a ship. Apparently, one person likened the business to a ramshackle raft on a choppy sea, with the occupants bailing out frantically but sinking fast. His boss wasn’t amused.
An acquaintance, who occupied a senior position in the legal profession, talks of a similar mind-set: “There is some mysterious activity engaged in by civil servants called scoping. I never did get that one. Another is to describe people as stakeholders, which apparently is anyone who may be affected by what it is you might be scoping”. He concludes: “Civil servants talk of ‘addressing issues’, which is evidently easier that having to sort the bloody mess out”.
Recently, workers at another (nameless) company received an email asking them to refrain from using the term brainstorming from thence onwards as it could be potentially offensive. It was recommended that they replace it with the phrase idea showers. When I was at school we were simply asked to come up with ideas, nowadays whole lessons are given over to mind mapping exercises. You couldn’t make it up if you tried.
So, I propose we take a stand against these middle managing ditherers, spouting their mindless rhetoric. Are you with me dear readers? Or, indeed, are you snorkelling in my think tank?
George Appleton is a UCL graduate and freelance writer who is based in North Lancashire.
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