How to ‘engage users’ by getting rid of public sector jargon
Hurrah for the Local Government Association.
It wants all public sector organisations to ban the appalling jargon and gobbledegook that litter their publications and reports.
The association wants ugly phrases and words to be banned, arguing that they alienate the ordinary person, and are often meaningless.
I applaud this sentiment wholeheartedly.
Is there anything so ugly as listening to someone discuss “blue sky thinking” or “citizen empowerment”?
Why are so many reports bogged down in the sludge of horrible management-speak such as core values, facilitate, edge-fit (what?!), service users, improvement levers, worklessness and – a personal “favourite”, incentivise?
These words and phrases strangle our language and do nothing to “improve our skill set” (sic). They are of such profound hideousness that you might wonder if they fell out of the ugly linguistic tree and hit every branch on the way down before being stamped on by the OED.
These report writers use these phrases because they think it makes them appear clever and professional. No, it doesn’t.
The chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr Margaret Eaton, said it is vital that councils get their messages across clearly.
“The public sector must not hide behind impenetrable jargon and phrases,” she said.
“Why do we have to have ‘coterminous, stakeholder engagement’ when we could just ‘talk to people’ instead?
“Councils have a duty, not only to provide value for money to local people, but also to tell people what they get for the tax they pay. People would be furious if they have no idea of what services their cash is paying for and how they should get to use them. “
Who’d disagree with that?
There are some words and phrases that might (and I say “might” with extreme trepidation) have their place in the privacy of the boardroom, where inter-departmental co-workers might wish to cross-fertilise their ideas and champion collaborative best practice so that they are coterminous for the end user/client. At this point in time. Naturally.
But, for heaven’s sake, don’t be lazy and trot out these sterile phrases because you can’t be bothered to think outside of the box (sic) and engage with the populace or other stakeholders in a meaningful way. Such parameters are not good network models. We want the outcomes to be normalised.
So let’s embrace the LGA’s wish and be proactive in streamlining the potentialities of negative strategic priorities outcomes.
It’s time for these local authorities to interface with the agencies and engage in place shaping so that multidisciplinary practitioners can look at them as beacons of communication.
After all, we live in a can-do culture where there is sufficient capacity building to overcome such challenges.
Consider it actioned.