Microspeak: Well, actually management-speak

Raymond Chen

I hate management-speak.

Here’s an example from an internal Web site.

The purpose of this Web site is two-fold.

  1. Create a reference source (best practices) where individuals can learn how to plan/facilitate and leverage their X activities most effectively.
  2. Establish a library of X material teams can utilize.

Wow, let’s look at the first stated purpose. It goes on for so long and uses blatant management-speak such as “facilitate” and “leverage” that by the time it’s over, I forget how the sentence started. Going back and reading it again, it appears that the first item is identical to the second! It’s just that the first item says it in a more confusing way.

The second item shows evidence of management wordsmithing as well. “Utilize” instead of “use”. An action verb like “establish” rather than a state verb like “to be”. And those changes actually render the sentence incorrect. The purpose of the site isn’t to “establish” a library; the purpose of the site is to be that library. Establishing the library is what you did when you created the site in the first place! That purpose has already been completed.

I think the people who built this Web site just copied their annual review goals into the Web site text, forgetting that the review goal describes what you are supposed to do, not what the thing you created is supposed to do.

Here’s how I would have written it:

This Web site is a library of X materials.


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