Here’s a great article on FT.com about the use of management speak in the London held inquests into the deaths of the innocent and guilty in the London Bombings of 2007.
Lady Justice Hallet, the coroner, objected to the use of ‘management speak’, by the senior representatives of the emergency services interviewed as a part of the process.
When the inquest into London’s 7/7 suicide bombings started in October last year, the coroner became increasingly exasperated. On the final day of evidence, she snapped. “All you senior people [of the emergency services] are allowing yourselves to be taken over by management jargon,” Lady Justice Hallett said. “You people at the top need to say, ‘We have to communicate with people in plain English.’”
It’s an interesting observation that the writer, Simon Caulkin, then goes on to spoil with a rant about how ‘management’ is the problem. He neatly rolls up the current state of the West’s economy with the lack of vision, values and certainty in business, and disappears up his own blind alley, frothing at the mouth by the end and finishing with-
The truth is as rare as it is in business because it is explosive and revolutionary – not only does the emperor have no clothes, but he is also not a pretty sight without them.
The truth isn’t rare in business, in my experience, it’s exceedingly commonplace, but the unvarnished truth is a myth. It depends on perception, opinion and circumstance.
Let’s spare a thought for the ‘management’ here. They were under intense scrutiny. They were scared. They were being watched by the world’s media, and the unvarnished truth was probably ‘We were facing absolute fucking chaos. Bits of bodies in the streets, a total breakdown in normal service. We didn’t know what to do, but we did pretty well under the circumstances.’
Which is, essentially, just what the Coroner concluded. So sometimes ‘management speak’ is understandable, if not exactly what the lady wants.