back to article Councils clamp down on Strategy Boutique Newspeak

Free Whitepaper - Mainstreaming Process-Driven Holistic Governance The Local Government Association (LGA) has issued a jargon death list featuring 200 of the worst Strategy Boutique abuses of the English language which will in future be consigned to the dustbin of linguistic history. Among the outrages marked for proscription …


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  1. Anonymous Scotsman

    Taxes well spent

    For once, I actually approve of the way that a committee has turned out in this country, because it embraces common sense and actually achieves something worthwhile.


  2. Robert Ramsay

    I shall be forwarding this to a whole lot of people make sure we are all coterminous - damn! damn!

  3. Sebastian


    Excuse the liberal use of exclamation marks - but this is such an encouraging glimmer of sanity.

    Just waiting to see whether anyone acts on the advice (AND is smart enough not to take the "translations" provided in the list too literally).

  4. Simon Brown

    looking through that list then:

    Best Practice = best way

    no it means the received best way - as in the way that most people reckon is the best way for this to be done, usually for very good and well established reasons.

    Cohesive communities = why use at all?

    because right now our society is falling apart?

    Governance = Why use at all?

    because that's what we pay you to do?

    Paradigm = Why use at all?

    Paradigm = A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline. Given that council governance is all about making assumptions about what people need and what councils can afford, it makes sense to use the word to describe that framework of assumptions, concepts, values and practices.

    Proactive = Why use at all?

    Well it would be a start. Why not try to anticipate problems before they hit, rather than reacting to them way after the event. The recent problems with snow were a good example of lack of proactivity - maybe use the words "planning ahead"?

    Process driven = shouldn't everything be people driven?

    Only if you don't understand what process driven means. Process driven is, or at least should be, people driven if you apply the use cases properly. I imagine that the objection here is that people are using "process driven" who have never used UML / RUP or even PDD. Given their complexity, being process driven is a very valid way for council services to be, they rarely are though.

    That said, I mostly agree with what is being proposed. Councils should stop using management speak and start communicating.

  5. Martin Lyne


    What will we pay the Consultants for now?!

  6. Les Matthew


    If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

  7. Julian I-Do-Stuff
    Thumb Up

    The Process Paint-Shop

    Well... so far so good. But how are they going to stamp out the sloppy thinking that conceals itself behind vacuous but soooo groovy verbiage?

    Give it six months and "indicators of beaconicity" will have evolved into "proxies for future sublimitude"

    How about a civil service "Summarising Proust Contest"* (12 words or less) to identify those who communicate better?

    * A starter for 8: "Dropped cake in tea: really brought back memories."

  8. Richard Porter
    Thumb Down

    Not just plain English

    This isn't just plain English, it's dumbing down the language. Although a lot of the expressions listed should not be allowed in the public domain (can I say 'domain'?) many of the suggested alternatives do not mean the same as the perfectly good words they replace.

    Capacity is not the same as ability. Words like 'client' and 'customer' have specific meanings. They should not be abused (e.g. calling passengers customers) but that doesn't mean that they can't be used in the right place. How on Earth can 'focussed' mean the same as 'Outcomes'?

  9. Code Monkey

    "This gobbledegook has to go"

    Blimey. Over the years I've heard some shite in my office but nothing comes close to "Predictors of Beaconicity".

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Helicopter view

    It's not just newspeak being used in place of ordinary words or phrases, there is also the case of new newspeak being used to replace perfectly ordinary jargon type phrases that had become commonly understood. One that peeved me off was "helicopter view" to replace "birds eye view".

  11. DZ-Jay

    Oh my gawd!

    Some of the alternatives suggested are just as bad as the offending words. For instance, "Coterminosity - all singing from the same hymn sheet". Ugh.


  12. Richard

    And while we're at it....

    ....can we stop this silly idea of "raise a ticket".

    Tickets are for buses, trains, planes and theatres etc.

    Cut the nonsense and log these things as they should be, as problems.

    Heck, why are customer support areas so terrified of word problem?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the best policy

    is to immediately fire anyone using these terms for being a worthless twat.

  14. John Meredith

    The Paradigm Shift to Vernacular Enhancement

    So does that mean the Procurement Department now need to be called the Buying Department? Who's going to sign off on the cheque to replace the door signs?

    This is nonsense. Clear language is fine but many of these words are appropriate and valid. If anything, this council seem to be dumbing down their management if they cannot be bothered to expand their vernacular.

    Oh rubbish. I have to ban myself for using the word "vernacular". Sorry, I meant "dialect". Damn. Try again. "words".

  15. Anonymous Custard
    Paris Hilton

    Can we not all just agree?

    "Coterminosity - all singing from the same hymn sheet

    Coterminous - all singing from the same hymn sheet"

    Isn't that just replacing one bit of management jargon with another?

    What's wrong with the word "agreement" and it's derivations?

    Paris - because she'd coterminously agree to it.

  16. David Harper

    Beacons of Bollockosity?

    Please can we also replace the linguistic abomination "Human Resources" with "Personnel"? I'm not a human resource, dammit, I'm a person!

  17. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down


    You can't say "autonomy" any more? Even when referring to things which are autonomous?

    Apparently the people who "don't know why they should bother to vote" don't know why they should be bothered to learn to read either.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Richard Porter & Simon Brown

    You are absolutely right- the problem here isn't the specific words being banned (how will they enforce this, just out of interest? Thought Police?)

    There's nothing wrong with "governance", per se- it's got a specific meaning, it's just some asshats misuse it. Ditto "proactive" ( as opposed to "reactive") and "process driven" (as opposed to "made it up as we went along" or "complete f*cking mess", which is of course the usual local government way of doing things).

    Sending out a list of proscribed words is much more newspeak than using "proactive" in it's proper sense. I suppose the biggest difference between the LGA and Big Brother is that the LGA are trying to hide the stupidity of their managers from people, whereas Big Brother was trying to stamp out subtleties of thought by controlling the language, thus leading to mass obedience of their evil diktats*.

    It's slightly disheartening to see a few tech folk (who should appreciate the importance of precision) going all tabloid (although "indicators of beaconicity" is a hard one to defend...**)

    *Mind you, that's not to say that the LGA may not be trying both here

    ** but to give it a go: it refers specifically to Local Authorities who are aiming for Beacon status. An indicator thereof is something that points to an Authority showing signs of attaining that goal. Stupid, but explicable, in other words. And yes, that is my coat.

  19. blackworx
    Thumb Up


    I am so glad that "proactive" (SPIT, GOB, PUKE, COUGH, SPIT) comes under the category "why use at all?"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > What will we pay the Consultants for now?!

    there's clearly a large opportunity for Consultants to show councils how to adapt to the new words. Plus, I'm sure lots of focus groups/surveys etc will be needed to check the engagement/buy-in of the "customers" (doubtless internal as well as external) with this.

    I assume there will also be a need to hold extensive training sessions for senior staff, and doubtless it will be discovered that hotels in the mediteranean offer great value for this.

  21. Graham Marsden


    ... does this mean an end to games of Bullshit Bingo?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What's wrong with that then? A perfectly useful word that's been in our language for over 500 years and still means pretty much the same now as it did then. There is no single word that can replace it and still mean exactly the same thing.

    So while some of this list is a damn good thing, the inclusion of words like paradigm shows a continuation of the tendency to "dumb down" (actually that's another phrase that should be consigned to the linguistic scrap heap) all things public sector. Presumably so stupid managers and politicians don't actually get found out.

    I suspect that there were quite a few idiots on the LGA committee that drew up this list. And those idiots do not know what a paradigm is. So rather than picking up a dictionary and increasing their vocabulary they decided the word should be banned.

    Again the rule applies: The collective intelegence of a group of people is equal to that of its most stupid member. Actually I suspect that what happens is more complex than that and the group's collective intelegence will fall below the intelegence of its most stupid member.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    have a look at

    Now have a look at the list of words at :

    The game is - how many words on the list can you find on the home page of the agency that says don't use the words?

    My favourite headline is : Empowering engagement: a stronger voice for older people

    Two points. Your turn.


  24. Daniel

    Paradigms lost

    "We can't put the broken part in the machine. It wouldn't smash the right tiny things together. Then the macine might break.

    That would be very bad."

  25. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    "Predictors of Beaconicity".

    Special. Very special.

    But generally a good idea.

  26. Richard Porter
    Gates Halo

    The Predictors of Beaconicity

    That has to be a good name for a rock band.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    abstract terms

    I work with the general public, and I gotta tell you - they really don't get 'abstract' words at all. It's practically impossible to get people of under 30 to understand that 'work' can apply to things which they don't consider to be 'employment' or academic study.

    It's all very well for writers and management types to be able to simplify things in their own heads and come up with useful words like 'stakeholder' which serve an excellent purpose and cover a great deal of different groups of people, but unless you use the words that people are expecting and which they feel apply specifically to them, most of the population will have difficulty understanding what you mean.

    That said, it's important to encourage people to have good vocabularies, and good business vocabularies, since the more words people know the more concepts they can deal with. A problem which is exacerbated by current ideas in schools about doing Powerpoint presentations rather than writing essays.

  28. Don Sinclair


    That's great news, its good to see our public sector thinking outside the box by adding value on numerous levels. A rain check has been on the cards for some time!

  29. Adam Salisbury

    Thank God

    I for one believe everyone, not just local authoritites, should stop hiding behind the English language using more and more intricate and sometimes archaic linguistic suberfuge to either hide their incompetence or make themselves sound indispensible by being incoherent, that's a benefit which should only be reserved for desktop support staff!!!

    Some common sense from yet another questionable quango has been far too long in coming and while I do welcome it, one really does have to wonder why it took putting some overpaid suits in a commitee just to waste taxpayer money only to publish works stating the completely f**king obvoius!!!

  30. Svantevid

    Kurt Vonnegut

    To misquote the man, "any executive who can't explain to an eight-year-old what he is doing is a charlatan."

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    'Predictors of Beaconocity'


    I mean - wow!

    Someone actually used that and their vestigial sense of irony never even kicked in. Hold on, who's in charge of the Department for Communities and Local Government? [clickity]

    Aha. Explains everything:

    The simpering ginger android herself.

  32. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Communicate effectively?

    Shouldn't they follow their own advice and say 'talk clearly'?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    The Predictors of Beaconicity

    I keep reading that as the predictors of bestiality. maybe they're synonymous...

  34. Buzzby


    I used to watch "Drop the Dead Donkey" years ago not just for the comedy but for what I called

    "Management Power Talk"

    I would wait to see when our management began to use it with glee!

  35. Paul

    jargon to inflate sense of importance

    my wife was highly amused as she worked in local government social services (which morphed into part of NHS trust) - said she didn't understand all the cliched jargonistic phrases in use.

    we had a good laugh over the list during our _quality_face_time_ earlier.


  36. Mr Larrington


    Van Helsing was a stakeholder. Slimy the vampire buffer was probably one too.

    I am not. Now go away, preferably with this garden fork embedded in your worthless skull.

  37. Robert Fletcher

    Whitepaper links...

    Was it with irony that links to whitepapers entitled:

    "... driving revenue...", "..delivering support.." , "Learn how to deliver..."

    appeared on this page?

    I claim 6 points, or is "delivering" just a one pointer these days?

  38. Paul

    "pro"-active RAAAAHHAHJJHJHHJS!!!

    I hate it, I've always hated it. "pro"-active.

    It's not a word. It's nothing, zip, bupkiss totally redundant.

    we do not proactivate something if it is deactivated, and when it is reactived it is not proactivated.

    active *IS* pro-active, but with out the asshatted, fuck-wittery that comes with the latter term.

    If your are active, then you are "ACTIVE" in your actions, you can't be "pro" too it's redundant, your already doing it.

    There are many, many, many more, so i suggest not a Jargon Buster, but a Jargon Thermonuclear Strike.

    Now excuse me, I'm right in the middle of actualising a robust solution, for invested stakeholders.

  39. Chika

    Multitudinous gratitudes

    Thank fuck this has now come up. Perhaps, if the Councils take this seriously, we can then move on to some of the other alarming habits that have crept into Town Halls and Civic Centres over the last couple of decades such as, for example, the council "slogan". I worked for one once that proudly proclaimed that "Public Satisfaction was its aim". Honestly! If that was really the case, what was the need to advertise it?!?

    I cannot wait for the termination of the doubleplusungood bollockspeak...

  40. Alex Barwick

    A couple you left out

    I work for a local authority and we have a couple of extra bits of jargon that float about one is Business Need, I thought we were a service to the council tax payers and the people of the community and not a business. The other one is Efficiency Cuts when it means cost cutting and leads to less service to the community, redundancies and a more pressure to the remaining staff leading to people off sick with stress and depression leading to even a worse service to the community.

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