First up I want to make it clear that I love the English language - pretty much all of it - well said or badly written. I am no stickler for accuracy either. I positively embrace language evolution, I have been known to be lax in my approach to grammar, and I am foolhardy when it comes to the comma ("Sophy, commas are not administered with the help of a pepper grinder" is one of my favourite ever essay comments).
As much as I aspire to follow Orwell's mantra "never use a long word when a short one will do" (from the brilliant Politics and the English Language), my love of words in particular oft overtakes me, and I find myself languorously indulging in the sonorous cadences of the English Language (....!).
I am however, utterly Orwellian when it comes to the use of Business Bullshit (thank you, THANK YOU, Andre Spicer). There is most certainly no Doubleplus Good when it comes the management gobbledygook which is the blight of so many meetings and so much writing today.
Please, dear God, stop 'reaching out' (unless you are lucky enough to be one of the Four Tops) to me - call me or speak to me. I absolutely do not want to blue sky any sort of thinking, or think outside the box, or run a flag up a flagpole - I want to consider, create, test. I refuse to table a meeting, circle back or put a pin in it. And, quite honestly, if any one of you tries to onboard me, I will jump overboard.
So, it was with a happy heart and great joy that I listened to Thinking Allowed last week and Laurie Taylor's interview about the perils of Business Bullshit. What I thought, however, would be a funny, upbeat, piece had a much darker undercurrent.
The danger of management jargon, and indeed any obfuscating language, is that it tends to hide the truth (back to Orwell and a shade of 1984 ). It talks around, not to, the case in point, and in doing so can blur the edges between right and wrong, good and bad. 'Downsizing', lest we forget, means firing people.
The show points out that, at its very best, this language is empty. At its worst it can start to break down morality. In shying away from clarity, we encourage blurriness. And in encouraging blurriness we build a culture which promotes hiding and confusion.
In the wake of Bell Pottinger's demise, our business has been contemplating our own morality and ethics. What would we work on, what would we do and how far would we go to do it? What is right and what is wrong?
Which is interesting, because at the centre of the campaign which marked the beginning of the end for Bell Pottinger lay three words: "white monopoly capital". Words which flirted with morality - deliberately slippery enough to seep between the cracks, force open rifts, and cause divide.
In a world where Fake News is centre stage, where opinion spreads like wildfire across the internet, where amplification is more important that truth, the need for clear, plain talking has never been more apparent.
No to Newspeak, yes to Truespeak.
Management Jargon Thinking Allowed Management speech - Laurie Taylor explores the origins and purpose of 'Business Bullshit', a term coined by Andre Spicer, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Cass Business School, City University of London and the author of a new book looking at corporate jargon. Why are our organisations flooded with empty talk, injuncting us to "go forward" to lands of "deliverables," stopping off on the "journey" to "drill down" into "best practice."? How did this speech spread across the working landscape and what are its harmful consequences? They're joined by Margaret Haffernan, an entrepreneur, writer and keynote speaker and by Jonathan Hopkin, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the LSE.