Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Change?

What's it all about....

For some people Genghis Khan was the earliest example of an extremely competent manager; although it’s doubtful whether he ever wasted time on management speak – for him actions spoke louder than words. Management speak seems to have been gifted to the world by America. Chester Irving Edwards’ 1938 book Functions of the Executive has a lot to answer for. With statements like, “The line of communication should not be interrupted when the organization is functioning,” you could have guessed that it was only going to get worse.

Initially it was those on the cutting edge that talked the talk, soon middle, junior and even non-managers embraced this language as a means of getting ahead. Management speak is very seductive – the bottom line is we’re all trying to leverage our fair share of the intellectual capital. Even politicians, who look increasingly like middle managers in marketing departments, have hi-jacked management speak to ‘present’, or at least try to differentiate, their ever more similar ideas from those of the other parties.

It is now so pervasive that everyone in society at least grasps the basics of the language. It’s no different from the language as a whole; it’s evolving year by year as new words get added to the lexicon almost every week. It would be wonderful to know who dreams some of it up. Who was he first numpty that uttered the immortal phrase, ‘transferable skill set’? Who said ‘impactfulnesss'? and managed to keep a straight face? Who decided it was a good idea to have hymn sheets in the office? But whatever the answer, who needs to walk the walk, when you can talk the talk?

While euphemisms have crept into management speak for just about every kind of business activity, recently one old fashioned piece of straight talk has come back into fashion. ‘You’re fired!’ Still, it’s better than if Genghis Khan had been your manager, in his case it would have been ‘You’re dead!’