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Good morning/afternoon/evening poets. My name is Tony Maude and at this time my remit requires me to proactively ensure that your presence is adequately acknowledged with the strategic intention of meeting the key deliverable of stakeholder satisfaction. Or in plain English, if you prefer, to welcome you to the Pub … smiles.

Today we’re going to be thinking about the poetic possibilities of …

Jargon, Buzzwords and Management Speak

management jargon

Love or loathe it, jargon, bureaucrat-ese, management speak, sales spiel, political obfuscation etc is a fact of modern life. Nothing is so straightforward that it cannot be rendered incomprehensible or have its meaning obscured. Sometimes this happens because the speaker is trying to sound more impressive than they are. Sometimes it’s because they really don’t want us to know what they mean.  Sometimes it’s because they don’t know what they mean.  Sometimes it’s because people are trying to make things sound better than they are: it matters not whether your position has been down-sized, right-sized, out-sourced or demised, the end result is the same; you are being made redundant.

And sometimes you have to wonder whether the generators of this type of thing are being paid by the word. Consider this example, which I found on the Plain English Campaign’s website:

High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.

There is, unsurprisingly, a much simpler way of saying this:

Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

Or, what about this (tongue-in-cheek I hope) example, passed to me by my wife:

In an effort to escape from silo thinking, I have endeavoured to achieve a helicopter view to allow the practice to seize the low-hanging fruit of holistic, patient-centred medicine. My partners are fully sighted on this team-led, patient-focused project, brainstormed through a mind map process where we all agreed to open the kimono. We hope to produce an SBAR to allow organic spread through our local cluster in a peer-to-peer thought shower.

I’m not entirely sure what this is supposed to mean (suggestions … printable ones please, this is a family show … are welcome in the comments), but it is almost poetic … almost.

It was while we were discussing the ludicrosity (is that a word? It is now … smiles) of this type of thing that I was reminded of a found poem a friend of mine wrote after reading a particularly excruciating CV (resume). I can’t post it in full, but here are the opening and closing lines to give you the flavour of it:

I am a woman possessed
of the key skills to incentivise staff,
validate client-facing compliance …

I have strong communicational skills.

That first line break is priceless … smiles.

But Tony, I don’t know any management jargon …

First, if that’s you, then rejoice in your great good fortune. And then, fear not, for help is at hand. The BBC has a list of 50 of the most loathed office-speak phrases here and Real Business has another list of 50 here.

If you are still struggling, the management speak translation guides here and here might be of some assistance.

Or perhaps you’re looking for some brand-new impenetrables. This handy management-speak buzzword generator has everything you need … and there are plenty of others … smiles.

Poetry, Satire and Subversion

As poets the whole of language is at our command … and that includes the type of corporate jargon that we are thinking about today. But what can we poets do with such painfully twisted language?

The first option is to satirise it, to hold it up to the ridicule it deserves. Done well … and it is hard to do really well … this can be really effective, saying something both about this type language and about those who use it. Tom Bobbin has done this with his award-winning Management-speak haiku.

Another approach is to subvert the language. If the intention of some of those guilty of propagating this stuff is to obscure meaning, then maybe we should turn the tables by using business-speak to actually say something meaningful?

Or maybe this use of language makes you mad, and all you want to do is to reveal everything that people are trying to hide when they talk/write like this. Here’s a chance to do exactly that, to get it off your chest and vent your spleen.

Today I’m inviting you to take some of that management/political/corporate gobbledygook that we so love to hate and use it poetically. Think outside the box. Push the envelope. Sprinkle your magic. I’ve run this up the flagpole to see who salutes; it’s up to you to action it and make good on the deliverables … smiles.

Here’s what to do:

• Write your poem and post it to your blog.
• Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below.
• This opens a new screen where you’ll enter your information. This is also where you choose links to read. Once you have pasted your poem’s blog URL and entered your name, click Submit. Don’t worry if you don’t see your name right away; try refreshing the page and your link should appear in the list.
• Please do take time to read and comment on other people’s work to let them know it’s being read. It is this aspect of what we do here that builds our community and helps each of us to develop as poets.
• Share your work and that of your fellow poets via your favourite social media platforms.
• Above all – have fun!