The office jargon that staff hate

A dalek looks on as Colin Warhurst holds up a sign saying pre-planning and the pre is crossed out Colin Warhurst in Salford - and his Dalek friend - would like to exterminate 'pre-planning'

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Unsurprisingly, Ariel's recent appeal against office jargon struck a chord with many BBC workers frustrated by corporate waffle. Here, we list the worst examples that staff emailed.

Plymouth director Simon MacLennan bravely admitted to having said the following: "We can knock it off as a stone-waller and stunt it up later in post". His excuse? "It was a few years ago and I was very young."

A number of respondents, who prefer to remain anonymous, submitted the following examples:

  • Is this a lean-back or lean-forward proposition?
  • Once that idea has got traction, it'll soon become part of the core DNA of the business.
  • To land terrific content
  • He brings with him a strong affinity for working and innovating across new media

Salford technologist Colin Warhurst wrote: "My personal favourite has to be pre-planning. Erm, isn't that just called planning?"

Another respondent emailed: "Thank you for highlighting nonsense talk. For toddlers, it's a crucial stage in language development. For management, it's ………… A previous department of mine had a new head whose favourite phrase was going forward. It was the perfect answer for anything. Others, who were water-holing* at the same meeting, would nod sagely. What was amusing was how quickly other senior staff started using it too, as if it was a revelatory phrase! Others from the same regime included: can you upscale that idea; come to an idea shower; and could you cascade that one?"

(*no, we don't know what that means either)

Ben and a wide-eyed Jerry in a meeting in W1A Jargon often leaves others, like Ben Rosenstern and Jerry Guildencrantz in W1A, speechless

Project manager Tim Nicholls, from Technology, Distribution & Archive in London, said the use of leverage as a verb was at the top on his "list of things that make me want to shove a biro into my temple".

He continues: "It's a noun. You can apply leverage, but you can't leverage something. And don't give me the old 'popular usage' excuse - that just means everyone else using it is just as wrong as you are!

"Now, I'm off to ideate some more examples. Ideate. Grrrrrrrrrr."

Richard Culver, executive producer at Radio 4, added: "My favourite piece of jargon happened when someone from another division was explaining to me why something that they were responsible for didn't happen. 'I'm afraid that didn't happen because it failed to eventuate' - which is basically saying that it didn't happen because it didn't happen."

Another worker recently heard the phrase straw man. Apparently it means the rough outline of a plan - or it could be a scarecrow. While former BBC journalist Ian Richardson wasn't impressed by the intergalactic put that in parking orbit, i.e. put that aside for the moment.

But our top jargon-tastic contribution has to be the following.

"Final approval will now come from Exec Board, with intermediate steps which are being clarified at the moment. Once completed, we will assess, prioritise, and execute tactical solutions, and provide the key milestones for roll-out of the strategic solution. We will describe the evolving programme phasing in the roadmap we share with staff later this month."

Pat yourself on the back if you reached the end of that.

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