Running it up the flagpole


Are you encouraged to drill down? Do you create straw men, or aim to get your ducks in a row? And how much do you leverage your solutions to make them scalable? If this type of language turns your stomach, you're not alone!


I was first alerted to the vagaries of this business jargon in the higher education sector in Scotland. A previous manager was frequently found 'going forward' to take the 'helicopter view'. And it drove me mad. I would attempt to edit this jargon out of reports, to little avail. Since then, I've been conscious of the type of language I use to communicate my ideas. But it's not easy. I'm sure if I went through my published posts, I'd find lots of examples of these fairly meaningless phrases. So how much does it matter?

I think there are two big problems. The first is the lack of clarity that using this type of business jargon brings. Communication should make things clearer, not more difficult to understand. What does thinking outside the box really mean? Can we not just be more creative, or use our imaginations? And can we put things off for another time, rather than taking them offline or putting them on the backburner?

The second problem is that saying these things doesn't make them happen. There is a danger that using this type of language makes people believe –mistakenly – that something is getting done. This might be because it's not all that clear what is supposed to take place. But just by saying that you're putting together a SWAT or tiger team doesn't actually identify the right people or help them work together.

So how can we change things? It's up to everybody to question the jargon, first by not using it themselves and then by asking what someone really means when they say these meaningless phrases. Let's all make a commitment to being clearer in how we talk to each other, and avoid the jargon. It might just lead to good things!

Now, time to smash the window of opportunity, grasp the nettle, and grab that low hanging fruit.

#jargon #communication #clarity

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