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I realise that much of that is not new, and indeed the Keynes' thoughts that Migeru quotes are an appropriate response.
But the tyranny of empty words is something that I am quite sensitive to.

Of course, you can never lead a frontal assault or you turn any audience against you, so over the years I had developed the full asking questions / reformulating toolkit.

However, it seems that even that is considered a step too far, and I recently lost a major contract for engaging in the practice. As I was told, "We are very clear on what clients value about us" which apparently was "being left in a happy place" and under no circumstances getting the impression that something they had said might be questioned or reformulated, even if they had just essentially said that the earth was flat and Mercury floated on water.

To rub it in, the message then concluded on a deluge of empty-words slogans:
"Therefore we prioritise HOW we engage with clients, just as much as WHAT we do for them.  Our belief is that change is both a science (WHAT) as well as an art (HOW).  [...] We will grow with a team that 'gels' and provides the WOW factor for clients in the way we operate."

OK, that was probably not a high point for management consulting. But if that really is the trend (and I have every feeling that it is), what will be left of any discourse? How can we meaningfully communicate if marketing slogans replace normal language while even active listening, reformulating and asking for clarification is considered rude enough to be a sacking offense?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 01:51:11 PM EST
There are two reasons people hire consultants:

  1. They need help making a decisions or developing a strategy, plan or framework.

  2. Their management has decided up on a decision or developed a strategy, plan or framework, and now need to legitimize it to their internal stakeholders.

If what you are doing is more a legitimization exercise than a strategy exercise, then your customers are paying you to not question the wisdom of the exercise.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 03:54:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I know that.

But in that case I did not question a manager, or any legitimacy. And it was not the company hiring the consultant that terminated the contract -it was the consulting company that had hired me as an associate consultant (I am freelance).

It seems that they view their role as some kind of equivalent of massage therapy without the need to take off some clothes.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 04:06:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was never quite sure what the point of that sort of consultancy was, but it appears to be very popular.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 04:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
It seems that they view their role as some kind of equivalent of massage therapy without the need to take off some clothes.

LOL, at least massage can do some good!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 04:26:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
How can we meaningfully communicate if marketing slogans replace normal language

excellent, probing question!

when i first met my ex-mother-in-law, the first question she asked me was 'can you sell?'

i remember looking at her blankly for a long moment, then saying 'i guess it depends what'.

her look turned immediately to one of pitying scorn, it was obvious to her that i would be a Big Fail in today's world, seeing by how far i had missed the main point of existence, by her value system.

this whole neolib takeover macro-mirrors what happens to each individual involved in spreading it, the first step is removing any unproductive vestige of scruple or conscience, so to streamline oneself into the purely aquisitionary state of mind necessary to be a corporate tool.

newspeak is the method with which they ensure earnest compliance, shorn of any friction due to curiosity or god forbid, personal responsibility, or sin of sins, critical thinking. how dare you pop the bubble?

this mentality completely blocks the brain from growing healthily, and leads to infantilisation of adults, two great examples staring at us in recent days are the suit from the fracking company that insisted terms of agreement included that the 7 and 9 year old children in the family never mention fracking for the rest of their lives.

the other one was how anyone working for the USA government was forbidden to read about snowden on the internet.

newspeak seems like it's just redefinition of words, but it's much much more than that in reality. it's a direct invitation to abrogate your personal sovereignty, and worse, to consciously choose to collude in the atrophisation of what underpins our very deepest survival knowledge, our nose for what's bullshit, and what's real, it's an auto-cauterisation of the most vital of our cerebral functions, a self-immolation of the most dastardly sort, and if your vocabulary allows it, a selling of your soul.

faustian pact.... you learn to lie to yourself, and sweep that very fact under the rug of denial, so you yourself believe the lies of commission or omission that entails. that is in effect a totalitarian, blanket coup d'etat on your most precious possession, your intuition. no smidgeon of doubt must creep in to divide your loyalty to the illusion crafted to take reality's place, just as with organised religion, to doubt or question is judged as arrogance and apostasy, who are you to question the Great On High, you lowly worm?

newspeak is the portal to amorality, a kind of consensus insanity...

good diary, meta, but right on point, nice (in its original meaning) thinking, Cyrille. looks like your BS meter kicked in to save your integrity, your immune system was working to keep you clean and freethinking.

whew, another bullet dodged! if you dig a little, this BS is always paranoia-based.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 7th, 2013 at 06:33:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now the only problem that remains for Cyrille is finding new clients. I understand your problem in this regard. I could have made more money and worked longer had I been able to better suppress my scruples. It is a delicate art - being able to act like a total idiot while avoiding appearing as such. I fear I never adequately mastered that art.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 09:50:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
what they want to see from you is servility. i just got fired from a job which could have been a smooth flow for all concerned, but the suggestion that we were equals in a project of mutual benefit was systematically forced out of the relationship because i did not enable their sense of superiority by flunky-ing enough.

of all the social um, arts, obsequiousness will get you furthest.

i just hate pettiness, and these folks gloried in it.

my bad...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 11:42:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Today in Newspeak
"A damaged economy cannot afford to allocate such a large share of limited resources to housebuilding."

My first impression would be that the economy is compared to something that can quite literally be damaged, but still work partially, like an engine. So it is an engine that produces money (or GDP), but now it is sputtering and not as much money is coming out. So this limited flow is not enough to pay for houses.

Reminds me of the Grotte mill, that according to ancient Scandinavian mythology could mill forth anything (in particular gold) but was so heavy that only giants could work it. (It all ends badly.)

The engine analogy has similar properties to the household analogy, but I think it can easier be remodelled into something useful. Since the economy is damaged it needs repairing. For example, to repair the economy we need to get people working, and what better way then to build homes that is sorely needed?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 04:51:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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