Can’t rookie techies in corporate corridors be spared the loaded jargon, wonders G.B.S.N.P. Varma
In a swanky air-conditioned lecture hall of a software company, new recruits gather to ‘get attuned’ to the company goals. “It’s my first day in this company and I am really excited about it,” says Praveen, a fresh software engineering graduate. The youngsters plunge the hall in greetings of ‘hi guys’ and patting each other for landing the plum jobs. They are awaiting a senior HR manager who is ‘scheduled to arrive shortly’ to explain them about the company’s achievements and expectations.
The loud conversation abruptly shrinks into soft whispers with the entry of a ‘hunk’ clad in a suit and tie and holding an IBM ThinkPad laptop. There is something inevitable and impenetrable about him. He lumbers to the podium and greets them: “I invite you all to this great place where you can build your career and set in motion forces that can transform you and the company.” He connects his laptop to the LCD projector and boots it. A headline and a block of text flash on the screen and he reads it aloud: “Mission statement: We operationalise cutting-edge transformation of practices and processes to augment the value in our stable of services and to deliver profit to our end users.”
Somewhere in the middle, he manages to bring in his own work.
“I rose to this level by being productive. You can make it too," he tries to inspire not to forget use of harder jargon and a lot of hot air.
Fortunately, he doesn’t have a hat, a fact that prevents an almost obvious thought that he could be talking through the hat!
The element of ambiguity is almost nil among the recruits who feel that much of the ‘introductory exercise’ could have been made less complicated.
While only a few try to ‘relish’ the ‘tonic’ being fed to them as a sure shot recipe for success, for others, words of the ‘speaker’ tumble out like bricks and gash their cerebral cortex.
After an endless two hours of mind-wrecking management speak that usually originate in the HR departments, the new recruits stumble out in a daze for a coffee break.
With mind thoroughly scrambled Arun huddles and whispers in a soft tone: “I wish the heavy dose of lectures and no work could help us climb the corporate ladder.”
A befuddled Ramesh is staring into the web page downloaded onto his computer screen, with his jaws clamped between his hands.
He applied for a company and received an interview call.
To bone up on the company’s background, he opened its website. "Mission statement: We help you invent ways to move the world forward." Move the world forward -- what sort of toss is that, he mumbles.
Role of a language
‘Management speak’, feel many, is reduced to a tool to create obfuscation and confusion.
“I have attended several meetings where lectures are replete with words like benchmark, synergy and empowerment. But at the end of the day, you realise that they are empty shells of words and nothing more. Only that you get inured to it to preserve your sanity,” observes H. Mohan.
“Why can’t these people use simple language? It takes hell of an effort to understand the management speak,” chips in Prashant adding further: “Many a time, we miss it altogether.”
Arun echoes the mindset of Don Watson in his work Gobbledygook: How Cliches, Sludge and Management Speak are Strangling our Public Language when he points out that a language should help stay connected with one another at a deeper level. Watson had said:
“By adopting HR and its various associated creeds, including knowledge management and neuro-linguistic programming, educational institutions and other organisations created to provide enlightenment, assistance and care, speak a language that cannot express sentiment. A dead language.”