It is best not to use jargon. You may think otherwise, but it makes your writing harder to understand.

After writing about the virtues of easy-to-read writing, I re-read earlier stories on this site and found shocking examples of management jargon.

For example, in Managing change: keeping a lid on panic I wrote about ‘participative management’.

Could I have written the story without using jargon?

Ambiguous language, bad language

‘Participative management is ambiguous – it could mean a number of things. And the five syllable word ‘participative’ worries me on a number of fronts.

The phrase is typical of the highfalutin jargon-laden nonsense empty-headed bosses puff themselves up with.

Yes, I confess it is bad. Yet I don’t think it would be possible to write about the subject without using the term.

I thought of going back and changing the term to ‘open management’. The term is still a tad wanky and ambiguous, but ‘open’ is miles better than ‘participative’.

Warning: Jargon

The problem is, nobody understands what the term ‘open management’ means. You could almost say the same about ‘participative management’. But management experts and academics understand the term.

Google lists 170,000 entries for ‘participative management’. They mainly refer to the same thing.

It lists 73,000 entries for ‘open management’. One look at the first page of entries shows the term used in a variety of ways – in some cases for complicated information technology things.

So, it looks as if we are stuck with ‘participative management’ and hundreds of other management terms. In my next post we’ll look at how to use them and not lose our readers.

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