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Driving home today I fell in behind a pickup truck sporting a homemade bumper sticker composed of individual stick-on letters:

drafting is not an act its an art winston salem cars are not apart
Was the pickup's owner asking to be tailgated by a better class of driver? Probably not, but that seemed to be the sense of the word salad he'd composed.

That bumper sticker made me think of those ExecuSpeak vision statements you see on office walls: "Committed people advantaging our Clients interest's," that sort of thing.

When corporate bigwigs display their ignorance of English wise underlings check their tongues. Politically savvy underlings force the words to make sense by advantaging everything they can get their hands on.

The USAF has its own blue-suited corporate leaders, of course, and consequently its own ExecuSpeak. In my day, "having visibility over" projects and processes was the rage.

I don't know who coined "having visibility over" but am willing to bet it was a senior leader. Like this: a three-star tells a one-star he wants to have visibility over some project the lower-ranking general's division is working on, meaning that he wants to micro-manage the project by knowing everything that's going on as it's happening. The lower-ranking general, in turn, demands visibility over the project from his colonels; the colonels demand it from the majors, and so on down in classic military fashion. Unit vision and strategy statements are rewritten to embrace the concept of having visibility in all directions: downward, upward, and lateral. Two years later the three-star retires, visibility is replaced by transparency, and down come all the posters.

During visibility's heyday I refused to use the word in any sense other than the meterological (i.e., if the visibility at my planned destination is less than three miles I must list an alternate destination on my flight plan). ExecuSpeak made my skin crawl. It still does.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Having "insight", not "oversight", was another... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, Otteray Scribe

    ...part of the mantra at one time. This was aligned with a management approach where "Total System Performance Responsibility" was provided to acquisition contractors, who immediately took advantage of it to drive up hundreds of millions of dollars in failed acquisitions.  The millitary, in testimony, acknowledged its ineffectiveness, and is still (after 10 years) drawing back from its implementation.
    The executives that implemented this are working at the contractors that benefited, or are in jail. (See Darleen Druyan )

  •  'visibility' must have ground down the teeth of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Otteray Scribe

    more than one pilot.

    Thanks for sharing the moments of idiotspeak.

    It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

    by Murphoney on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 12:24:04 PM PST

  •  I never really understood the comic strip (0+ / 0-)

    "Dilbert" until I worked in a corporate bureaucracy once.  The longest four years of my life.  

    One of the jobs given me was to be the "Champion" of a project.  The fact that it was completely out of my area of specialty and made no economic or practical sense had nothing to do with it.  I was the "Project Champion."  It has been more than fifteen years and I still have not figured out what that means.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 06:57:38 PM PST

    •  And oh yes. One more thing. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The corporation I was supposed to be Champion of the project with had to pay ten million dollars in fines and the CEOs were all under investigation by the FBI.  I bailed from the corporation when they asked me to commit perjury.  I think the letter of resignation I wrote to the CEO came close to setting his pointy hair on fire.

      The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

      by Otteray Scribe on Sun Jan 13, 2013 at 07:02:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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