Management speak is a literary force

Guru is all for free speech. Without it, he probably would have been locked away many moons ago alongside Voltaire.


However, there are times when even he has trouble sticking to his mantra: “I
do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend until 5.30pm your right to say it.” This is one of those times…


Dear Guru,


I’ve been following the recent attack on management speak with growing sorrow, and feel it has been rather a one-sided reproach. Perhaps I’m the only one, but I am rather fond of management speak, and I think that by dismissing it, we are cutting ourselves off from new ideas and approaches; something to be ashamed of.


In literature, those who devise similes and analogies are lauded for provoking the imagination of the reader. Are not many of the phrases we disparagingly refer to as ‘management speak’ similar? Perhaps some are less sophisticated than those of master of metaphor Shakespeare, but sometimes management speak describes, in a few words, things for which this decreasingly articulate nation will use paragraphs of waffle. Yes, people might not grasp the point straight away, but that is true of all things, plain English (which even sounds boring, like a side salad – not unpleasant, but predictable and uninspiring) or not, and the challenge and discussion that follows is surely a positive thing.


There is a place for side-salad language, such as policy or providing instructions, but surely – in the spirit of improvement and trying to move people away from their comfort zone – should we not be looking to throw a little spice in the mixing pot and create new sensations that inspire?


There might not be any new ideas, but there are often new and interesting ways of looking at old situations. Why not let people come up with new descriptions and pass them on and, who knows, a little pearl might emerge from stagnant water?


Best wishes,


Disciple Julia


Let the debate begin.

Comments are closed.