Archive for the ‘Words that should be banned’ Category

Euphemism alert: “custody suite”

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

One distinct downside of the privatisation of public services is the ever-creeping presence of marketese.

Marketese is that nasty neo-liberal language that turns pupils into customers, citizens into stakeholders and a cancer diagnosis into an opportunity to exercise choice. (more…)

Beware this word “unprecedented”

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Today, we learn that Human Rights Watch has urged Nato to investigate civilian deaths in air strikes in Libya last year.

Nato’s response? The campaign was, it says, conducted with “unprecedented care and precision”.

Unprecedented? Unprecedented? (more…)

Twelve more words to ban from your workplace

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

1. Values
All 90,000 of your employees around the globe share the same six corporate values decreed from the heights of the HR director’s office, do they? Are you sure about that?

2. Change
Not so long ago, change was something we could all believe in. It’s just a shame that, as with Tory governments, when your boss uses the word “change”, it probably means you’re about to lose your job.

3. Offering
Have you noticed that nobody provides a service any more? Keen to sacrifice themselves upon the altar of The Client, companies now have “offerings”. Sadly, when I click on “Our Offerings” on a corporate website, I’m invariably confronted with some babble about “go-to-market strategies” and “cutting-edge solutions aligned to your specific needs”. Disappointing when what I really wanted was a burnt cow, a tenth of your annual salary and the life of your firstborn son.

4. Sustainability
This one seems to have overtaken “diversity” as the cliché of choice for the corporation that wants to sound like it gives a shit. Are you tempted to become one of the thousands of businesses claiming to be “shaping a sustainable future” through your products and services? Google “the earth plus plastic” and have think about how you sound.

5. Platform
Whenever someone claims to be building a platform for change/action/success, it’s a sign they’re stalling for time. So a useful word to include in your objectives for the year as it’ll make you sound busy without requiring actual work.

6. Excellence
Mere competence doesn’t cut it in a world where everyone else is in the business of excellence. Like “solutions”, “excellence” is one of those words to which other corporate clichés invariably adhere. If you’re not actively “delivering” excellence, then you’re probably at least “passionate” about it. And if you’re building a “platform” for it, it’s probably because you want it to be “sustainable”.

7. Outside-in thinking
No, not the path to true enlightenment to be pursued through yoga, sweat lodges and psychedelic drugs. Rather, the path to true customer-centricity to be pursued through paying a management consultant thousands of pounds to spout nonsense like this. As far as I can gather, “outside-in thinking” just means thinking like a normal person. The sort of person who wouldn’t say “outside-in thinking”.

8. Practitioner
Include this impressively Greek-sounding and consonant clustery word in your job title and you instantly sound like you’ve spent years training in an elite medical academy – as do all those chiropractic practitioners, homeopathic practitioners, astrological counselling practitioners and Bach Flower practitioners with their advanced diplomas from various departments of the Des O’Connor University of Shoplifting. Now the corporate world has its own public relations practitioners, marketing practitioners and internal comms practitioners, who no one suspects of selling snake oil at all.

9. Holistic
The original business woo woo word. Need to win more clients? Simply let that marketing practitioner sprinkle some of her “holistic solutions” over your brand.

10. Experience
We no longer shop. Instead, we have a “luxurious retail experience”. I don’t merely get a haircut – I go for a “total hair experience” (available from the Bond-Street-of-the-burbs that is Sutton High Street, if you’re interested). What’s more, you’ll find that an expensive glass is the most effective way to “enhance your wine drinking experience”. This vile hyperbole loses further points by virtue of its frequent use with the word “ultimate”.

11. Toolkit
Remember when the economy was booming and every other executive wanted to jack in the nine-to-five to become a plumber? Ah, the romance of wearing overalls to work. Of profiting from the nation’s love affair with ever-rising property prices. Of being paid to stick your hand down a blocked toilet. Lacking a bagful of pipe cutters, the rest of us got in on the zeitgeist by creating “Toolkits” for “Successful Delivery”, “Joined-Up Working”, “Diversity” and the like. Funnily enough, now everyone’s feeling grateful to have a job – any job – it’s been a while since I’ve heard this one.

12. Benchmarking
A word you’d never use outside the office. A word you’d never use inside the office, unless you were trying to suck up to your boss. A word made all the more revolting by its frequent pairing with “best practice”. According to Wikipedia, the term was first used by cobblers when measuring people’s shoes, so with a bit of luck its blue-collar associations will send it the way of “toolkit”.

For more words that drive me mad, see Thirty words you need to stop using today and Another 30 words and phrases you should stop using right now

Ditch this terrible corpspeak!

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Mangled syntax and contempt for the niceties of grammar are endemic in modern business writing. Here are the affronts to the English language that most get my goat. What are yours? (more…)

How committed are you?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

The one thing you can say about corporate types is that they’re not commitmentphobes.

In fact, it seems that every other company is committed to something – whether it’s quality, excellence, innovation, success or, in the case of PepsiCo, “Performance with a Purpose”.

What’s clever about the “C” word is that it’s a pledge about where you’d like to be, not a statement of where you are. To the delight of your Legal & Compliance team, it has an element of postponement that gets you off the hook from actually being what you claim to be.

Actually, the commitment cliché has become such a staple of the corporate lexicon that I don’t think people really know they’re doing it. I urge you to think twice next time you’re tempted to pledge your to commitment to some spurious corporate value.

Below are my top three offenders – do you recognise your company here?

(more…)