Sunday, 8 June 2008

Business gobbledegook

I asked a question over at LinkedIn recently asking people for their best (worst) examples of corporate gobbledegook. As often seems to be the case with LinkedIn (more on this another time) I had a great response and received a number of funny and insightful thoughts.

Here is a small sample of the best of the best.

Susan Otterson sees red when people use "spend" as a noun. As in, "What was your spend last year?" Why can't people just talk normal?

Michael A. Keane says these "gems" come from a firm that he worked with, and they have spread like pigeon droppings on public square statues: on-boarding, off-shoring, on-shoring and my favourite near-shoring. Then there's outsourcing, in-sourcing and that favourite form of complicated BS known as strategic sourcing.

I have always liked "fully supportive of the general strategic direction" this means you cannot have my money but if it goes well I will claim some of the credit. Thanks to Noel Poon for this definition of Teflon management.

Matt Papuchis put this together for use at a conference. It basically shows two ways of saying the same thing, and how over-complicated people tend to make things: 1. Graciously, elevate and extend your intricate, prehensile, multi-fingered (four fingers and a thumb totaling five digits) body part, which is normally located at the end of one arm on a human or other primate. Or. Please raise your hand. 2. Situate yourself in an upright, vertical, and plumb position in which your body is erect and perpendicular. Or. Stand up.

David Elfstrom refers to a real example he received once from a broadcast e-mail to all 7000 employees, marked with "high importance": "These stakeholders are expected to work collaboratively with other relevant contributors as appropriate to ensure accurate, relevant evidence and rationale are considered in applying criteria to each element and raising strategic considerations." My edited version, pieced together based on context from the complete email: "Department heads must work together to do what we've asked them to do."

Adam Lewis claims that to answer this properly you’ll need a ‘soup to nuts’ approach involving an Aunt Sally and a Strawman in a Sandbox. I think at that point you should be safe socialize to the excomm via the blogsphere. TTFN,

Walter Holberg tells of when he had a manager at one company that ended every memorandum with the sentence, "See no failure to comply". After several years it was shortened to "See no failure". The phrase "See no failure" was ubiquitous within our organization, but complete nonsense anywhere else

…and finally Marc Humphries provides 3 crackers beginning with the term "Horse Blanket". Used by Cap Gemini and Ernst and Young as in "..we need to run a horse blanket session". Apparently, this is a brainstorming exercise that produces an output on brown paper that is approximately the size of a horse blanket. Oh and one more. ".. being able to have a quality reward conversation". The translation for this is "you won't be getting any sort of payrise this year. My current favourite is "moving towards a high performance culture". Normally only means one thing - POP (people off payroll.)

Great stuff folks and thanks to everyone for their contributions. If you are interested in this subject there are more “great” examples and even some bull$£%& detection software over at the Fight the Bull website.

1 comment:

Rosie Sherry said...

The Gobbledygook manifesto is quite good, I've set out a list from it for myself of words not to use:
* next generation
* flexible
* robust
* world class
* scalable
* easy to use
* cutting edge
* well positioned
* mission critical
* market leading
* industry standard
* turnkey
* groundbreaking
* best of breed
* enterprise wide
* interoperable
* extensible
* breakthrough