Thursday, 3 March 2011

A conference demountable unit from a management centre

In every large organisation there seems to be a class of people I call jargonauts. They love knowing and using all the latest buzz words and enjoy the totemic power and authority they think comes from moulding language into impressive-sounding jargon, impenetrable to mere outsiders. They hardly seem to notice all those little people outside the loop who just want them to talk comprehensibly. Three cheers, then, for Lady Justice  Hallett, the coroner in charge of the 7/7 bombing inquests, who's had enough of that nonsense:

Lady Justice Hallett let fly at Gary Reason, assistant commissioner of London Fire Brigade.

She spoke out as mention was made of  "a conference demountable unit from a management centre" - which is a portable incident room.

She said: "As far as I can tell, management jargon is taking over organisations and perfectly sensible, straightforward titles are being changed.

"This isn't just somebody being pedantic about the use of English, which it appears to be... when it comes to managing incidents, people don't understand what the other person is."

The coroner said the problem had been an ongoing theme in hearing evidence, adding: "I don't know whether a crew manager is somebody who is responsible for supplies or is used to fighting fires. I have no idea."

She said clarity was key when crews were trying to ensure safety at a disaster scene, saying: "What worries me is all you senior people of these organisations are allowing yourselves to be taken over by management jargon and, as I say, it's not just directed at you... I just think that you people at the top need to say we have to communicate with people in plain English."

UK Press Association

Management bullshit isn't just a pet peeve of irrelevant pedants - at worst, it can cost lives.