NO CHILD ASPIRES to a life talking the kind of nonsense that many executives speak. But it seems that, as soon as managers start to climb the corporate ladder, they begin to lose the ability to talk or write clearly. They instead become entangled in a forest of gobbledygook.
The first explanation for this phenomenon is that “jargon abhors a vacuum”. All too often, executives know they have nothing significant to say in a speech or a memo. They could confine their remarks to something like “profits are up (or down)”, which would be relevant information. But executives would rather make some grand statement about team spirit or the corporate ethos. They aim to make the business sound more inspirational than “selling more stuff at less cost”. So they use long words, obscure jargon, and buzzwords like “holistic” to fill the space.
Another reason why managers indulge in waffle relates to the nature of the modern economy. In the past, work was largely about producing, or selling, physical things such as bricks or electrical gadgets. A service-based economy involves tasks that are difficult to define. When it is hard to describe what you do, it is natural to resort to imprecise terms.
Such terms can have a purpose but still be irritating. Take “onboarding”. A single word to describe the process of a company assimilating…