Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Joined up Thinking

Doesn't management jargon drive you nuts?

Sadly, we're all at it. I recently talked to the Council's Planning Department who thanked me for 'reaching out' and 'engaging in dialogue' about a proposal.

What I did was I phoned them and I talked to them. That's it.

The person I spoke to was no more qualified to do the job than me and they seemed good at reading the regulations while hopeless at working out whether my proposed house extension breached any of them. However, what they were good at is giving me a whole load of meaningless guff that neither gave a full negative or a full positive but their use of jargon was meant to create a mystical air of obfuscation to the extent that I might go away thwarted, yet the person had not directly me told me to.

Enter the 'New World of Management Speak'. In this world we can have a meeting between departments and get some 'joined up thinking' or 'unwrite' a plan. We can 'open the kimono' or 'peel the onion' rather than say what we think. We can 'downsize' rather than make redundancies or we can 'put rubber on the road' rather than do something.

It's a world where we can create the illusion that we know what we are doing when in fact we don't. But keep repeating the vacuous phrases and pointing to some slides on the monitor and we can trick even the most wily business people into believing we are experts.

It is widely accredited that the reason IBM spectacularly imploded in the 80's is that the managers focused on avoiding bad news and were rewarded for giving positive messages. The vernacular phrase, 'he gives good slide' became the watchword for a good manager. They basically avoided the facts.

Nowadays, it's all about 'putting lipstick on the pig' perhaps. I find myself falling into the trap which is nauseating but it seems that the phrases are so widely accepted, yet mean little, that it's a wonder if anyone is actually communicating anything of real value anymore.

Coming back to Twitter. Rather than 140 characters forcing us to say something succinctly, the majority of tweets use tiny urls to reference material somewhere in the ether which could be pages long. It's so bad that most tweeters don't even have anything original to say so they just re-tweet or reference something someone else said or another article. Picking your way through the @so and so or has something drives me bananas.

Facts and original thought seem to be the last thing on people's minds. But if it keeps you in a job, who's knocking it?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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