A Dictionary for the Shafted: business jargon

At last! The third installment of the Great Dictionary! It’s easy to mock banal business jargon but there are reasons an authoritarian regime will try and manipulate language. A common trick of dictators is to cloak horrible deeds in the most banal language possible. Another trick is to use language to brush over your constant failures…

Outside the box: We spend 99% of our time living in a box. We must spend a lot of time talking about getting outside the box to disguise the fact that our organisation loves the box. Do not mention that we live in a box.

Reach out: Our organisation exists in a weird social bubble that helps us justify (to each other) everything we do. We’ve hit bad luck and now have to talk to and justify our appalling decisions to someone else. Ugh.

Stakeholders: We are going to talk about individuals and large, wealthy organisations as though they are equal. So we must have the same name for them. We must do this because we don’t want to admit that while weighing up the needs of our ‘stakeholders’ we are effectively pitting Manchester United against Ashford Sunday Five-a-Side Team. Manchester United always wins, in case you were in any doubt, but the point is, we give them all a level playing field.

Synergy: We’ve found a new way to be parasitic on someone else’s work. We’ll pretend that they benefit as much as we do.

Added value: We did something that makes a profit. Not for you, pleb.

Game-changer: Someone has been doing something better than us. Quick! Copy it so we can look competitive!

Blue sky thinking: Let’s think ever-so-slightly more imaginatively than before. No, not that imaginatively. Stop it! IT’S ALL GONE TOO BLUE! Quick, do something pointless and call it blue!

Heads up: A bit like ‘alerting’ someone to something, but purposely banal so as to ensure it doesn’t cause anyone to panic and think that (a) we are in the shit and everyone is about to lose their jobs or (b) they’re onto us.

Singing from the same hymn-sheet: We must ensure ideological uniformity is enforced across the organisation. We don’t want our employees to notice how worthless we are so we’d better quash any dissent to our fuck-you business model and ensure that no employees accidentally make us look bad by accidentally doing something. Stay upbeat!

Dialoguing around an issue: You are a problem. We’re going to sack you. Let’s talk about it. That’s enough now.

Pushing the envelope: We’re doing some work for once. As the economic organising unit of capitalism we are supposed to be dynamic and competitive and innovative. But we need a special term for when we actually do this.

A Dictionary of Terms for the Shafted: political policing

This is the second installment of the dictionary. I felt we needed new terms to help us describe the increasing intimidation of protesters in the UK.

Kettle of First Resort: The use of ‘containment’ – holding people against their will and without intention to charge them – as a standard tactic rather than (as claimed) as a last resort.

Open Kettle: A variant of the above, but with porous police lines. The intention is to take control of the space from the protest while allowing individuals to move through the lines. An Open Kettle can become a standard kettle at any moment.

Pressure Cooker: An Open Kettle in which the police progressively move inwards, diminishing the space in which the protesters can move. Those who maintain this is not meant to be intimidating are welcome to stand inside one.

Threatening Letters: Sent to ‘known protesters’ before a protest, to threaten them with the law if they don’t obey the law. Also useful if you’ve lost your diary and can’t remember when the next protest is.

Bouncer Bill: searching people on the way to protests. The victims are chosen according to a set of unstated prejudices and like the bigotted bouncer at the door of the nightclub, the excuse is ‘the safety of everyone’, even though these searches never uncover anything.

March Under Siege: A protest march that is only allowed to move under control of the police to the front, rear and sides of the march. Announcing your route helps the police lay the siege.

Polluted Protest: A protest in which there are so many undercover police that no one will be able to tell afterwards which side did what to who.

Shock And Awe Teams: also known as ‘snatch squads’ – the use of overwhelming violence to take out minor perceived threats. The police launch themselves into a crowd with batons at the ready and emerge with a candidate for the next definition.

Restrained Violence: Police violence against one already restrained, whether on the ground or in cuffs.

Public Exposure: Targetting the media with stories about your enormous weaponry in the days before a protest so as to intimidate those going.

Time-restricted Liberty: The setting of a definite time limit on your right to assembly and expression. The police attempt to send people home after this, like teachers telling children playtime is over.

A Successful Protest: In police language, this means one sufficiently dampened by police threats and violence that it can be ignored by the establishment.

Political Vetting: The bit in the post-protest press conference where the police spokesman outlines who was or was not a ‘legitimate’ protester.

Total Policing: Er, presumably the kind of policing you expect in a totalitarian state. This is the latest Metropolitan Police slogan.

A Dictionary of Terms for the Shafted: Part 1

A hive mind known to colonise other hive minds

This is the beginning of a dictionary of contemporary working life. I may one day write some further additions to it. Submissions welcome.

Freezing Bottom: the condition of an organisation in which wages are frozen, but only at one end of the salary spectrum. It is not considered polite to talk about it.

Totally Targetted: when an organisation replaces the pursuit of values, or active engagement with real problems, with a pursuit of targets. This is the beginning of the end. The real target is your self-directed working and any notion of cognitive independence from the hive mind. Run.

360 Performance Appraisal: you suck the boss while the boss scratches his moustache over your groin.

Effing Effed: Due to efficiency savings, your newly efficient job role now efficiently covers the work done by three people previously. You are paid the same, or accounting for inflation, less. You know that this ‘efficiency’ reduces the quality of your work but this appears to be of no interest to anyone.

Casualisation casualty: someone whose job and all future job roles have moved from permanent payroll positions to temp or contract work. You are expected to appreciate the flexibility, though it is left ambiguous who the flexibility is for. Say goodbye to buying a house.

Robot Rogered: When a consultant robot is asked to come in and improve things you are considered to have no expertise in – i.e. what you spend forty hours a week doing. These highly intelligent yet ignorant robots will, rather than consult you, apply the stand formula for process ‘improvements’ they apply everywhere, then leave you to sort out the mess. Robots are paid approximately five times more than you.