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In memory of Samuel Hackett - the father of modern jargon

By Peter Tapsell - posted Monday, 29 March 2010

There have been many people who have worked diligently in their chosen jobs who never got the recognition that they deserved. These have been people who worked hard, tried to help others, and gone home at the end of each day with a sense of a job well done. However, as they became caught up in the bureaucratic world, many of them would have found that being so helpful may have had unforeseen consequences.

One of these people, we’ll call him Samuel Hackett (one name is as good as another) might not have existed, but he certainly should have. If he had, he would have spent his whole working life in a corporation or in the public service. He would have joined as an 18-year-old and never looked back. He would have headed departments and been considered an indispensable employee.

Hackett would not have been well-known, however, he would have had great influence in the reforming of the bureaucratic systems in the late part of last century. He would have done his best to ensure that, as times change, employees had the tools to deal with any new issues that arose.


However, Hackett’s main contribution would have resulted from his ability to write memorandums and briefing notes that crystallised the thoughts of his superiors, and to play a key role in strategic planning. At the peak of his career in the 1980s, he would have written his “off-the-shelf” Chief Executive Officer’s Speech. This would have been the result of the endless requests he received to write such speeches. The full text would have been as follows.

I am pleased to announce that the results of the department’s mid-year review are now available for scrutiny. It has been a successful start to the year and, to this time, we have experienced a general improvement in organisational effectiveness.

As a result of our pro-active approach in maintaining the critical marginal benchmark system, there has been a noticeable improvement in our neutral feedback loops. This has been somewhat counter-balanced by some unintended quantum leakage due to an unexpected flux in the ongoing fractional differentials.

To address this, a representative bottom-line workshop was run with the aim of developing cutting-edge methods of utilising our projected consequence tables to minimise typical process contingency outcomes. This project-based approach has been commenced and is expected to resolve the issue as part of an expanded learning alignment that will add much-needed flexibility in meeting key performance indicators.

We are now focused on the indexed integrated idlers (Triple I) that were formulated to increase embedded efficiency nodes and to enhance the progressive corporate model which we believe will move us forward towards a world-class structural climate. In the coming year we plan to engage in a specific executive thrust using our Triple I system to push towards a triple-bottom line growth theme.

Moving forward, the department will be commencing a multi-phase strategic review to ensure a systematic rationalisation of the operational paradigms that currently underpin the foundations of its mission statement.

This review will also investigate ways to engage in symbiotic interpersonal co-operatives with our stakeholders to assess our current key deliverables in a way that will lead to mutually beneficial policy development that does not compromise the core values that define our vision for the future.

To facilitate this move forward, we will be developing a poly-dimensional functional competency matrix that we will use as a revolving enabler to identify where capacity building is required and to reverse engineer the corporate structure if we find we are lacking the relevant talent dimensions. Replicable capital synergies will be implemented where possible.

Prioritisation of these outcomes-based objectives will be undertaken with due consideration of the current negative growth of the budget and the time-poor nature of our biological resource units. A disposition list has now been revised after a comprehensive investigation by the cross-divisional human resource working group.

In the past this list has been considered a contributing factor to a culture of neutral business silos, however the effective use of human capital through the development of a specific talent vision, will embed a more direct interactive quality within the interface between management decision networks and departmental efficiency dividends. Preliminary process goals have now been set to guide an accelerated mission analysis.

This, together critical logistics inputs, will provide a positive pathway into the future and set a broad framework for our ongoing strategic planning process.

We expect these initiatives to enhance our empirical capability and to improve our interactive organisational continuum. They will also contribute to our risk-based program of continuous improvement and to a high-impact process of spiritual renewal within the organisation.

I can assure the public that the steering committee that conducted the review will meet on a regular basis to ensure that the reviews recommendations of the new strategic direction are implemented.

As you can see, Hackett would have been considered the father of modern jargon. This would not have been his intention. On reading what he had written, he would have instantly realised what he had done and had a complete nervous breakdown. He might have recovered, having convinced himself that it was all a bad dream, but when he realised its use was becoming widespread throughout the corporate and government world, he would undoubtedly have shot himself. His suicide note would have suggested that death was a better option than having to listen to that bullshit for the rest of his life.

He should have existed, but he didn’t. We have managed, with contributions from many well-meaning and not so well-meaning people, and through our own belief that we need to sound important and to use complicated phrases where simple ones will do, to create this sort of language all by ourselves. Well done! Oh, very well done!

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About the Author

Peter Tapsell has worked in universities, the mining industry, and government. He has also carried out some private consultancy work, mostly in areas related to the environment. He enjoys writing prose, verse and music and performing his creations. Peter blogs at I'd rather be at the Beach but ...

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