Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I was until recently of the opinion that taking the piss out of consultants and business people for their ridiculous use of jargon went out of fashion, maybe, five years ago. But today it seems that the Local Government Association in the UK is criticising its own members for now using exactly the same jargon. So perhaps the joke is hip once again. My pondering (blue sky thinking) on this matter was sparked by a day I spent recently with consultant who was organizing (facilitating) some planning (strategizing) for my work (business unit). The consultant appears to be a thoroughly decent person working hard to get a bunch of slightly suspicious and generally snarky researchers to work better together. This is probably a quixotic quest as getting researchers to cooperate is normally the proverbial herding of cats. But anyway, this is just to say that the consultant is a perfectly nice person before I begin to make fun of them. So, the day proved that consultant-speak isn’t just of invented comedic characters like in the Office or similar; they really do actually speak like that.

I got to the point where I just started writing down my favourite phrases. Readers will have to decide what they think the consultant meant by them, I will offer what came to my mind when I heard them. Resulting speculations on the state of my mind are not welcome.
  • Firstly we have “stakeholders”. I was willing to let this one fly at first because I do see a use for the term, but it came up again and again (plus its usage is criticised in the article linked above). By the end of the day I came to the conclusion that the word stakeholder should from now on only be used by people who build fences or who are vampire-slayers.
  • Next – “breakout groups”. Presumably a breakout group is subdivision of mass prison escape attempt. Think The Great Escape (“Let me come with you. I can see. I can see perfectly…”).
  • Then “concrete action points”. These are presumably those big concrete lumps you see in Baghdad that GIs can use to return fire from behind when targeted by insurgent snipers.
  • And finally – “collective internalisation”. This is clearly something that should only be attempted by experienced and highly paid porn-stars.


Tommi Laitio said...

This is too funny. I recommend reading journalist Steven Poole´s book Unspeak of the same happening in politics. How ´community´ in political speech is referring to the most peculiar things which meet no sociological characteristics of a community and how ´antisocial behaviour´ is usually something that actually is extremely social.

Your Neighbour said...

Just in case you haven't yet seen this one on the topic of consultants, Toby:

Consulting sheep