In last Thursday’s Guardian Steven Poole produced a list of ten business expressions which he finds particularly annoying: actioning, blue-sky thinking, deliverables, drilling down, going forward, and so on. To date the article has attracted around 2000 comments, adding a great many more. For some reason, jargon gets on people’s nerves.
Every profession has its jargon, necessarily so, and in some cases there is even an appropriate formal register (legal English, for example). But business is not a profession – it is a system of interrelated professions concerning manufacturing, finance, R&D, sales, marketing, and so on. What links them as an argot is not ‘business’ but management. Management is a jittery science, always needing to justify its existence since an ‘unmanaged’ state of affairs – an anarchist business model, if you like – is a very thinkable one, and most management tools (tools of analysis, tools of control) are by common consent expendable.
Hence the jargon. Gross margin might mean something useful, actioning the deliverables clearly does not; but both in their own way protect someone’s turf.