Below is a list of words and phrases that the Local Government Association wants banned. Many of them lattice the IT industry – and business journalism.
The banned list includes gateway review, synergy, stakeholder engagement, baseline, benchmarking, best practice, blue sky thinking, champion, challenge, early win, functionality, transformational and vision.
The Local Government Association says that such terms make it harder for local people to understand what councils do. Some of the most heinous offences against plain English are committed by “Predictors of Beaconicity“, “situational”, “place shaping” and “coterminosity”.
The Department for Communities and Local Government published in 2007 the unpardonable “Predictors of Beaconicity: Which local authorities are most likely to apply to, be short listed and awarded through the Beacon Scheme.” The out of place comma in the title is the department’s.
Words on the LGA’s banned list also include:
• holistic governance
The Association says that everyone who works in public services should use language that makes their work easily understood.
But it’s not just some councils and central government that use jargon to kill general understanding. IBM has developed its own language which seems designed to be impenetrable to most of us.
Somerset County Council formally recorded as one of its business challenges the task of understanding the use of jargon and acronyms by IBM, its partner on a £400m outsourcing – sorry privatised – contract.
The county council’s Audit and Resources Sub-committee said:
“Plain English – Our new partner has a challenge to consider in reducing jargon and explaining acronyms which are in common use within IBM.”
What follows is the banned list which is being sent by the Local Government Association to councils. The LGA has usually suggested alternatives. I’ve taken out a few words which are not often used in the IT industry and business media.
Across-the-piece – everyone working together
Actioned – do
Advocate – support
Agencies – groups
Ambassador – leader
Area based – in an area
Area focused – concentrating on the area
Autonomous – independent
Baseline – starting point
Beacon – leading light
Benchmarking – measuring
Best Practice – best way
Blue sky thinking – thinking up ideas
Bottom-Up – listening to people
Can do culture – get the job done
Capacity – ability
Capacity building – enough room in the system
Cascading – why use at all?
Challenge – problem
Champion – best
Citizen empowerment – people power
Client – person
Cohesive communities – why use at all?
Cohesiveness – together
Collaboration – working together
Commissioning – buy
Community engagement – getting people involved
Consensual – everyone agrees
Contestability – Why use at all?
Core developments – main things that are happening
Core Message – main point
Core principles – beliefs
Core Value – belief
Coterminosity – all singing from the same hymn sheet
Coterminous – all singing from the same hymn sheet
Cross-cutting – everyone working together
Cross-fertilisation – spreading ideas
Customer – people/person
Dialogue – talk/discuss
Direction of travel – way forward
Distorts spending priorities – ignores people’s needs
Downstream – Why use at all?
Early Win – success
Edge-fit – Why use at all?
Embedded – set in
Empowerment – people power
Enabler – helps
Engagement – working with people
Engaging users – getting people involved
Enhance – improve
Evidence Base – research shows
Exemplar – example
Facilitate – help
Fast-Track – speed up
Flex – Why use at all?
Flexibilities and Freedoms – more power to do the right thing
Framework – guide
Fulcrum – pivot
Functionality – use
Funding Streams – money
Gateway review – Why use at all?
Going forward – in the future
Good Practice – best way
Governance – Why use at all?
Guidelines – guide
Holistic – taken in the round
Holistic governance – Why use at all?
Horizon scanning – Why use at all?
Improvement levers – using the tools to get the job done
Incentivising – incentive
Income Streams – money/cash
Indicators – measurements
Initiative – idea
Innovative capacity – Why use at all?
Interdepartmental – working together
Interface – talking to each other
Iteration – version
Joined up – working together
Joint working – working together
Level playing field – everyone equal
Lever – Why use at all?
Leverage – influence
Localities – places/town/city/village
Lowlights – worst bits
Mainstreaming – Why use at all?
Management capacity – Why use at all?
Meaningful consultation- talking to people
Meaningful dialogue – talking to people
Mechanisms – methods
Menu of Options – choices
Multi-agency – many groups
Multidisciplinary – many
Network model – Why use at all?
Normalising – make normal
Outcomes – results
Outcomes – focused
Output – results
Outsourced – privatised
Overarching – Why use at all?
Paradigm – Why use at all?
Parameter – limits
Participatory – joining in
Partnership working – working together
Partnerships – working together
Pathfinder – Why use at all?
Peer challenge – Why use at all?
Performance Network – Why use at all?
Place shaping – creating places where people can thrive
Pooled budgets – money
Pooled resources – time and money
Pooled risk – Why use at all?
Populace – people
Potentialities – chances
Practitioners – experts
Predictors of Beaconicity – Why use at all?
Preventative services – protecting the most vulnerable
Prioritization – most important
Priority – most important
Proactive – Why use at all?
Process driven – shouldn’t everything be people driven?
Procure – buy
Procurement – buying
Promulgate – spread
Proportionality – in proportion
Protocol – guidance
Quantum – Why use at all?
Quick Hit – success
Quick Win – success
Rationalisation – cut
Rebaselining – Why use at all?
Reconfigured – reform
Resource allocation – money going to the right place
Revenue Streams – money
Risk based – safest way
Robust – tough
Scaled-back – cut/reduce
Scoping – work out
Sector wise – Why use at all?
Seedbed – idea
Self-aggrandizement – Why use at all?
Service users – people
Shared priority ¬- all working together
Shell developments – Why use at all?
Signpost – point in the direction of
Single conversations – talking to
Single Point of Contact – everything under one roof
Situational – situation
Slippage – delay
Social contracts – deal
Social exclusion – poverty
Stakeholder – other organisations
Step Change – improve
Strategic – planned
Strategic priorities – planned
Streamlined – efficient
Sub-regional – work between councils
Subsidiarity – Why use at all?
Sustainable – long term
Sustainable communities – environmentally friendly
Symposium – meeting
Synergies – what use at all?
Tested for Soundness – what works
Thematic – theme
Thinking outside of the box – Why use at all?
Third sector – charities and voluntary organisations
Toolkit – guidance
Top-Down – ignores people
Trajectory – route
Tranche – slice
Transactional – Why use at all?
Transformational – change
Transparency – clear
Upstream – Why use at all?
Upward trend – getting better
Utilise – use
Value-added – extra
Vision – ideal/dream/belief
Visionary – ideal/dream/belief
Council leaders ban business jargon – Computer Weekly
Predictors of Beaconicity – Government publication
IBM’s partner in £400m deal calls for less jargon – IT Projects blog
IBM Jargon and General Computing – IBM publication dated 1990