Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ban The Buzzwords

All the years I spent in business, I knew I was in for BS when I heard people using buzz words. Synergy was one of my favorites, followed by interface, empowerment, proactive, paradigm and the ever popular webinar. It wasn't just words, but also phrases like thinking outside the box, just in time, who moved my cheese, where's the pony, team player, win-win and far too many others.

People who communicate this kind of crap are seen by some to have accumulated the answers to the mysteries of business, which is partially why we are in such economic trouble today. These business gnostics tend, more often than not, to be little more than charlatans whose business acumen is vague, yet in reality meaningless. These are the same idiots who renamed workers, associates and replaced supervisors and managers with team leaders. Like the fanatics with Mao's little red book, they cajoled and threatened in order to change a successful culture into the substandard piece of garbage it is now. It will continue to decline even more with the advent of green buzzwords, like carbon footprint.

Well, CNN reports that at least one candle in England struggles against the darkness. British bureaucrats have been warned, no more synergies, stakeholders or sustainable communities.

The body that represents the country's local authorities has told its members to stop using management buzzwords, saying they confuse people and prevent residents from understanding what local governments do.

The Local Government Association, whose members include hundreds of district, town and county councils in England and Wales, on Friday sent out a list of 100 "non-words" that it said officials should avoid if they want to be understood.

The list includes the popular but vague term "empowerment;" "coterminosity," a situation in which two organizations oversee the same geographical area; and "synergies," combinations in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Officials were told to ditch the term "revenue stream" for income, as well as the imprecise "sustainable communities." The association also said councils should stop referring to local residents as "customers" or "stakeholders."

The association's chairman, Simon Milton, said officials should not "hide behind impenetrable jargon and phrases."

"Why do we have to have 'coterminous, stakeholder engagement' when we could just 'talk to people' instead?" he said.

The association sent its letter after reports that one town council had told staff to use the term "thought showers" instead of "brainstorming."

Officials at Tunbridge Wells council in southern England felt brainstorming might offend people with epilepsy, a condition that involves periodic electrical storms inside the brain.

However, the National Society for Epilepsy said it had surveyed its members and they did not find the term offensive.

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