Banish IT jargon and acronyms says Saatchi chief

Language starts revolutions, says Simon Francis, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "I have a dream; better dead than Red; Hey, hey LBJ how many kids have you killed today? The language shapes cultures and...

Share

Language starts revolutions, says Simon Francis, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"I have a dream; better dead than Red; Hey, hey LBJ how many kids have you killed today? The language shapes cultures and innovation. The language in technology is shocking."

He was talking to a packed audience of CIOs and other IT industry specialists in Kensington, London, yesterday evening. The La Fosse Associates leadership summit had as its main theme the role of CIOs in business innovation.

Francis put up charts showing as the source "ABA", and another "MIU". ABA means "another bloody acronym" and MIU "made it up".

"Get rid of acronyms," said Francis. "Seriously. It’s stifling. It’s a stifling environment. Use language your Mum would understand."

**

Last year the Local Government Association issued a list of 200 jargon phrases it said should be avoided for staff to communicate effectively. Many of the banned words and phrases are part of the DNA of IT industry communications.

The LGA's banned list included:

level playing field

re-baselining

coterminous

stakeholder-engagement

benchmarking

slippage (instead of delay)

procure (instead of buy)

mainstreaming

holistic

contestability 

synergies.

 

A Plain English Campaign spokeswoman said: "Churchill and Einstein were both plain speakers and they did OK."

Proof of the IT industry's unquenchable thirst for jargon is IBM's Dictionary of Jargon which runs to 65 pages of tightly-packed text. It defines a Black Hole as:

"n. A person or customer of enormous capacity who can drain the entire resources of an organisation (such as a branch office)."

Zero-content, in IBM's dictionary, denotes a document or presentation that is probably very wordy and beautifully illustrated, and which contains no useful information.

**

This is the LGA's full list of banned words and phrases:

Across-the-piece
Actioned
Advocate
Agencies
Ambassador
Area based
Area focused
Autonomous
Baseline
Beacon
Benchmarking
Best Practice
Blue sky thinking
Bottom-Up
CAAs
Can do culture
Capabilities
Capacity
Capacity building
Cascading
Cautiously welcome
Challenge
Champion
Citizen empowerment
Client
Cohesive communities
Cohesiveness
Collaboration
Commissioning
Community engagement
Compact
Conditionality
Consensual
Contestability
Contextual
Core developments
Core Message
Core principles
Core Value
Coterminosity
Coterminous
Cross-cutting
Cross-fertilisation
Customer
Democratic legitimacy
Democratic mandate
Dialogue
Direction of travel
Distorts spending priorities
Double devolution
Downstream
Early Win
Edge-fit
Embedded
Empowerment
Enabler
Engagement
Engaging users
Enhance
Evidence Base
Exemplar
External challenge
Facilitate
Fast-Track
Flex
Flexibilities and Freedoms
Framework
Fulcrum
Functionality
Funding streams
Gateway review
Going forward
Good practice
Governance
Guidelines
Holistic
Holistic governance
Horizon scanning
Improvement levers
Incentivising
Income streams
Indicators
Initiative
Innovative capacity
Inspectorates
Interdepartmental
Interface
Iteration
Joined up
Joint working
LAAs
Level playing field
Lever
Leverage
Localities
Lowlights
MAAs
Mainstreaming
Management capacity
Meaningful consultation
Meaningful dialogue
Mechanisms
Menu of Options
Multi-agency
Multidisciplinary
Municipalities
Network model
Normalising
Outcomes
Outcomes
Output
Outsourced
Overarching
Paradigm
Parameter
Participatory
Partnership working
Partnerships
Pathfinder
Peer challenge
Performance Network
Place shaping
Pooled budgets
Pooled resources
Pooled risk
Populace
Potentialities
Practitioners
Predictors of Beaconicity
Preventative services
Prioritization
Priority
Proactive
Process driven
Procure
Procurement
Promulgate
Proportionality
Protocol
Provider vehicles
Quantum
Quick hit
Quick win
Rationalisation
Rebaselining
Reconfigured
Resource allocation
Revenue Streams
Risk based
Robust
Scaled-back
Scoping
Sector wise
Seedbed
Self-aggrandizement
Service users
Shared priority
Shell developments
Signpost
Single conversations
Single point of contact
Situational
Slippage
Social contracts
Social exclusion
Spatial
Stakeholder
Step change
Strategic
Strategic priorities
Streamlined
Sub-regional
Subsidiarity
Sustainable
Sustainable communities
Symposium
Synergies
Systematics
Taxonomy
Tested for Soundness
Thematic
Thinking outside of the box
Third sector
Toolkit
Top-down
Trajectory
Tranche
Transactional
Transformational
Transparency
Upstream
Upward trend
Utilise
Value-added
Vision
Visionary
Welcome
Wellbeing
Worklessness

 

Links:

IBM's jargon dictionary.

Simon Francis on Utube.

  


 

Promoted