August 21, 2006

Translating leadership, creating verbiage

Every now and then you see some apparently simple text in your own language that you realize you simply do not understand. Gerbig Management has the slogan "Translating thought leadership...creating business results", six words with no plausible parse that I can detect ("translating thought"? "thought leadership"?); and the four things the company does are described as: "Structuring working partnerships that team with client resources, operations, and infrastructures"; "Assessing and approaching variegated causes and root concerns with targeted analysis solutions"; "Developing and managing complex information technology lifecycles"; and "Assisting client partners by managing risk and navigating an increasingly complex regulatory environment." Yes, one wants to say, but what do you do when you get to the office? It all makes me realize that the Language Log corporation just doesn't have enough sloganware, mission-statementry, or marketspeak to belong to the modern business world. We just sit around writing stuff about language (or in young Bakovic's case, playing World of Warcraft when he thinks I am not watching his screen through the crack of his office door). It is sooo yesterday. We should be structuring linguistic resources to team with client communicational information infrastructures, assessing root neuropharmopsychosociolinguistic concerns for targeted linguistic lifecycle technologies, managing linguistic risk quotients to assist partners in navigating increasingly complex morpholexicosyntactic environments... That sort of thing. I think I just made my head hurt.

By the way, "thought leadership" is not a new concept; it's just new (indeed, non-existent) in our organization. The phrase gets 7.42 million Google hits. We are so far behind the business-speak curve here that it's pathetic. We need... thought leadership. If I may re-cycle some wise words that Scott Adams once quoted in one of the Dilbert books, we need a change that will allow us to better leverage our talent base in an area where developmental roles are under way and will strategically focus us toward the upcoming Business System transition where Systems literacy and accuracy will be essential to maintain and to further improve service levels to our customer base going forward. That's what I think, anyway.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at August 21, 2006 02:13 PM