Mindworks’ Weblog

Thinking Matters

A Consultantese/English Dictionary

Posted by Andrew Cooper on September 16, 2008

A dictionary

A dictionary

Whitehall Webby Jeremy Gould has posted some excellent examples of the awful management jargon which messes up the minds and thinking of managers in organisations, including government departments.  It’s particulary tragic, as I noted in a previous post, to see this going on in Whitehall.

Many years of campaigning against this toxic misuse of language has failed and it seems that we are doomed to live with it forever.  So the best we can do is to attempt to understand what it all means, so far as that is possible.  With this in mind, in 1997 I wrote a Consultantese/English Dictionary.  I updated it a little in 2004 and I’ve just added a PS.

You can download a small PDF of the document here.  Please feel free to pass on a link to this post, or the PDF itself if you prefer, as I’m obviously doing this in an attempt at shameless self promotion.  (Unlike the mega-consultancies, I don’t have a mega advertising budget.)

As you’ll see, the PS is a request for more examples.  Unfortunately there are hundreds, if not thousands, in common use.  Only one of Jeremy’s top 5 actually appears in my dictionary, for example. Perhaps we should turn this into an open source project.  When I have a moment I might set up a wiki.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that organisations would be getting the message about this.  They aren’t. Take a look at this example which I came across only last week, but be warned: you’ll need a strong stomach if you’re going to get past the horrendous first paragraph.

Please ignore the odd typo: I’ll sort them out at, er, some point.  I actually quite like ‘…rather than the latte.’ and might leave it in, just for fun.

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One Response to “A Consultantese/English Dictionary”

  1. I especially like the “Decision Making Process: a process which ensures that no individual actually has to make a decision for which they might be held accountable.” This is corporate culture today. Most of the ‘new words’ are just a better way of simply promoting lack of accountability–does this one belong in the Consultantese Dictionary too?
    I feel that as I ’embark’ on my
    graduate careers search I need this dictionary with me so that I can better communicate with recruiters and employers.

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