Cut the Bull from Your Writing
Are you incentivized? Is your operation mission-critical? If these buzzwords sound familiar — or worse, if you’ve written them in reports, e-mails or memos — you might be in the clutches of business jargon. But you’re not alone.
Deloitte Consulting, in developing a free grammar analysis called Bullfighter, found that many companies prefer jargon and need a refresher in clear, concise writing.
“There’s a direct linkage between straight-talking companies and good business performance,” says Chelsea Hardaway, Deloitte’s marketing director and creator of Bullfighter. For example, the firm found that as Enron’s performance declined in its final three years, its press release, financial reports, letters to shareholders and speeches by top executives became more laced with ambiguous words and phrases.
Using the software to analyze 30 Dow Jones Industrial Average companies, Deloitte found that communications issued by the computer hardware and software segments had the lowest readability scores and used the most jargon overall. But high-tech companies are not alone in producing poor writing in business.
“It’s very widespread in the tech industry, certainly, Hardaway says. “But it’s not limited to that industry.” So why do people dip into the jargon jar so liberally when writing for business?
“The motive could be to sound intelligent,” she says, noting that many executives learn jargon in business schools.
Facility Security, Part 1
All facilities have taken a renewed interest in security and emergency preparedness since Sept. 11, 2001. But in too many cases, the efforts have been scattershot and piecemeal. To help give more structure to facilities’ security efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed an emergency preparedness and response page that collects resources and information for a range of security-related issues.
For example, the page: offers links to the U.S. Department Homeland Security and state emergency response agencies; provides tools related to the planning process for emergencies; and gathers specialized information on chemical and biological threats, bioterrorism, radiation, personal protective equipment, training and education, and safety equipment.
Facility Security, Part 2
Here’s a lesson for managers involved in efforts to protect their facilities from terrorism: A new $46.6 million public safety building in Mesa, Ariz., was constructed to withstand a terrorist attack. But its construction has left building occupants largely unable to communicate with each other via pagers and wireless phones.
The building houses police and fire department offices. Officers noted weak cell phone reception in some areas and a large dead spot in the middle of the building, Sgt. Jeff Esslinger tells AP. Now, the department is training its workers to depend less on wireless phones and to use traditional phones more.
No one seems to know why parts of the building block wireless signals.
“It probably won’t be solved,” Esslinger says.