The 'Keep it nebulous, stupid’ principle


I hate business speak. I like easy sentences that everyone understands. The KISS principle - keep it simple, stupid. Clear communications are more important than sounding smart and journalists get angry when bamboozled. 

My loathing of pretentious, intelligent-sounding gobbledegook, that leaves a room dazzled for all the wrong reasons, has led me to keep a record... though it doesn’t include the names of the ‘language criminals’ themselves (sorry!). And now my colleagues have joined in the fun by sharing funny phrases with me, often from influential business leaders keen to toss in a thought grenade.

To be fair to jargon users, refusal to adopt a ‘special language’ can be seen in some environments as being out of touch.

But if people are forced to nod and smile so as not to look stupid - when the reality is they don’t have a clue what you’ve said, it results in a breakdown of communication. You may think you’re being incredibly persuasive and thought-provoking, but when jargon is misunderstood you’re really being quite dumb.

Words like nebulous – oh the irony that it means indistinct, cloudlike, hazy, vague or formless! Or 360-degree thinking – how does spinning around in the office help things? Or link-juice - so that we’re all on the same page. (Sigh…)

Let me know if you’ve got any better ones than these low-hanging fruit I’ve pulled together, so we can develop a constructive feedback loop:

To upweight my thought matrix, I used persuasion architecture to drill down past the silo mentality and ensure the entire team gave it 110 per cent, then we augmented the salient details and ran it up the flagpole.

I remembered you can’t teach a kid to ride a bike in a seminar, so I used a think point and we touched base about it later, once I’d done some black hat thinking at a granular level to achieve real cut-through on the issue.

Put simply… I asked my colleagues for advice and thought about it.

Andy Rea