Mindworks’ Weblog

Thinking Matters

Challenging issues around the management jargon agenda

Posted by Andrew Cooper on January 3, 2007

I’ve always had a bit of a thing about management jargon, so it’s good to see that yet another survey has been published to bring us up to date with the latest inanities. I’ll add a link to the survey (by Office Angels) when I can find one, but in the meantime ‘Thought Grenade’ is a new one on me as is ‘Let’s sunset that’ which refers, apparently, to ideas that should never see the light of day.

I once wrote a complete Consultantese/English dictionary, simply because it’s so easy to make fun of this sort of thing. But there’s an important point here. Jargon, particularly management jargon, often gets in the way of clear thinking. The use of ‘issues’ (as in ‘issues around’) is still my least favourite example of the genre: its usually refers to what, in plain English, we’d call ‘problems’. Challenging issues are, of course, major – if not insuperable – problems.

The psychology of all this is interesting. Why refer to issues rather than problems? Its probably to do with the fact that admitting that you – or your organisation – has a ‘problem’ is seen as a Bad Thing, not least because you shouldn’t have allowed them to occur in the first place.

My favourite recent example of the issues thing was contained in an email I received last year which apologised for the fact that I’d been unable to phone the organisation in question because they had been ‘experiencing issues around their telephone system’. In other words, it wasn’t working. Thankfully I received another email later in the day to explain that the ‘issues’ had been ‘resolved’. Perhaps they’d provided the wayward telephone exchange with a course of counselling, rather than a new circuit board?

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2 Responses to “Challenging issues around the management jargon agenda”

  1. […] anyone who has read this will know, I don’t like jargon.  I think in terms of Whats and Hows when I’m trying to […]

  2. […] to be clear about Whats before generating some Hows.  (I use simple language like this for reasons I explain here.  After you’ve done some proper thinking you can dress up the results of your thinking in […]

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