Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Rant #483

This morning I started to read a research report that had landed on my desk in recent weeks. I didn’t even get through the Executive Summary before I binned it.

The problem wasn’t the content – I didn’t read enough of it to be able to assess its value. The issue was the use of language. Maybe it’s a symptom of my increasing grumpiness in middle age, but I am thoroughly fed up with government agencies, quangos and other people who don’t directly deliver services talking about the need to drive up standards.

To talk of driving up standards infers two things to me.

Firstly, it suggests that standards are not adequate as they are. This begs a further question – is it the standards that are inadequate or the performance against these standards?

Secondly, the assumption that improvement can only come through driving up implies that there is a significant degree of reluctance from at least one of the parties being discussed.

The people producing these documents are frequently the same people who exhort those working in UK public services to work collaboratively; to develop partnerships; to breakdown artificial barriers between agencies etc, etc. Yet the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.

In my view if they wanted to work in genuine partnerships, they would use language that fitted with that approach.

Here endeth the rant… (for today!)

4 comments:

nonprofitprophet said...

I concur with your assessment of bureaucracy. I have worked in the levels of government in the States, and there is more "lip service" and plans and studies done than there is time to implement. Its easier to say something than actually doing something. Of course, the motto here is: If it makes sense its not government policy. ~npp

Tess said...

Oh heavens yes! I'm drafting an environmental policy for my organisation and have been trawling the internet for ideas. Just today I found the Carbon Disclosure Project. It seems a worthy idea, but I nearly ran screaming from the room when I read this introductory paragraph:

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an independent not-for-profit organisation aiming to create a lasting relationship between shareholders and corporations regarding the implications for shareholder value and commercial operations presented by climate change. Its goal is to facilitate a dialogue, supported by quality information, from which a rational response to climate change will emerge.

Why bother to write short simple sentences when long complex ones will do?

nonprofitprophet said...

its like the old saying "never you a big word when a diminuitive one will suffice." ;)

nonprofitprophet said...

never "use"... geez. :) ~npp