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Jabberwocky is the creation of Lewis Carroll and, in brief, its unintelligible language. Once only found in the confines of Alice in Wonderland, we too often find it arising in corporate wonderlands.

I once heard a human resources woman talks about “attrits” for a few minutes, until I realized she was coldly citing those who would be terminated in a large layoff. I told the buyer I wouldn’t stay in a room with her in the future. It’s not uncommon to hear internal learning and development people utter bizarre sentences like this: “We want to take our place in the reskilling space so that the less-than-prime can have the potential to continue the journey.”

What that means is that people should be fired—preferably, those making such inane statements. This kind of condescending babble is no better than carny people identifying “marks” or sharpsters finding suckers. Casinos talk in terms of “whales” (very high-end gamblers). I’m reminded of those plays by David Mamet where you have to replay the dialogue at slower speed to realize how hostile and amoral it is.

Don’t put up with this crap. To call a strategy “organic” is nice, but meaningless unless you describe what that means. The CEO’s “top team” is usually not a team but a committee, making the ubiquitous gum-on-your-shoe-improve-anything-including-dandruff “team building” entirely irrelevant and worthless. The world of “comparatios” and “outboardng” and “schoolyarding” and “temporary parking” and “onboarding” is one of words with vague intent and no meaning, phrases of emotion but no logic.

Carroll’s intent was to bedevil and amuse, to entertain and provoke. It wasn’t at all to create clarity or reward obfuscation. Nor is that the calling of executives or their support staff.

I’ve told more than one person, “I have no idea what you just said or meant.” That doesn’t force them to explain, but it does shut them up for the time being.

© Alan Weiss 2013.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

Comments: 6

  • David Goldman

    August 5, 2013

    Thank you. I thought I was the only one. You are the best!

  • Alan Weiss

    August 5, 2013

    I’m trying to maximize the potential transparency of my initiativeness.

  • Jeffrey Summers

    August 5, 2013

    …through deeper engagement of the less-than-prime potentials.

  • Peter McLean

    August 5, 2013

    ‘Twas onsetting, and the unrealised hi-pos
    Did upskill the downstream on the journey;
    All sustainable were the organic teams,
    And the cultural keepers engage.

  • Alan Weiss

    August 6, 2013

    You have too much time on your hands, but that’s really clever!!

    • Peter McLean

      August 7, 2013

      True wealth??

      Thanks for the compliment.

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