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Looking Under the Hood of Annoying Management Speak

Poking fun at corporate jargon is on trend. Newspapers and online publications get a kick out of compiling extensive lists of the most egregious examples and the overarching narrative is that we should puncture the pomposity that this “management speak” is deemed to represent.

To its critics, this new language of business is seen as a tool for making things seem more impressive than they are. Phrases are dismissed as “meaningless lingo” or “lame euphemisms” and we are offered simplified, plain speaking versions instead. Sometimes, we are simply forbidden to use them.

But before we throw the baby out with bathwater – see what I did there? – we should stop to reconsider. What is the problem with this form of language? Why are we so annoyed by it? And why do so may of us keep using it?

Drilling down

The first problem is a semantic one. There is a big difference between the various labels so liberally used in the media, so let’s get it straight. “Jargon” is the technical vocabulary used specifically in a particular organisation or within a specific community. Idiomatic language – or management/corporate speak – is a fixed set of expressions used typically in business contexts...

Are Agencies Up to the Task of Managing Electronic Records?

On Dec. 31, federal agencies will be taking a huge step forward in creating a modernized system for records management. As part of the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18), agencies must submit records schedules for all existing paper and non-electronic records, and be ready to manage all email records in an accessible electronic format.

Both of these are vital components to meeting the directive’s end goal – managing all permanent electronic records in an electronic format by Dec. 31, 2019. This milestone is important because agencies can leverage these changes to better respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, meet eDiscovery needs and contribute to a more open government.

Currently, an overwhelming majority of agencies are on track to meet these deadlines –  93 percent of senior agency officials reported they would meet the email goal by end of 2016. However, while these requirements constitute a solid baseline for managing records for future formats, they do not encompass the totality of the responsibilities and expectations that will be required of information management professionals as data continues to grow and evolve over the coming years.

Where We Are Now

A new Iron Mountain survey shows that while the majority of federal information...

Your Meetings Should Include Less Talk

You need to have more meetings with less talking—and more silence.

Maybe you’ve experienced the awkward moment when nobody has anything to say. Relationships may not be fully established yet, or the room becomes silent because someone said something that was out of the box and nobody knows what to say about that. This isn’t the kind of silence that I’m suggesting you facilitate or encourage.

But you should encourage the kind of meetings where people are thinking together. There is great power in a group of passionate, professional individuals who come together under a common goal to apply their collective wisdom in a unified effort to solve or create something. And they’ll be doing it with you as the facilitator, the person who does remarkable things that help them think in new ways.

If this sounds difficult, it is—especially if you are used to doing all the talking and filling in the silence with your opinions. Facilitating silence can be a powerful tool for bringing out the best thinking from those around you. It’s a way to slow down and work in a different way, together.

Think of something that you need...

It’s Time to Cut the Long Lines for Government Services

We hate to wait, especially for something we don't want to do, such as get a license at the Department of Motor Vehicles, navigate airport bag-and-body checks, or call the cable company for service. Any form of waiting is irritating, but we seem to reserve a special level of ire when waiting for government. With so much anger directed at government these days, how can government reduce the pain of waiting?  

I blogged on this topic about 10 years ago, after a frustrating visit to my state’s DMV. Considered innovative at the time, my DMV had sent a letter suggesting I check online for real-time wait times. I did as suggested, but the reasonable wait time I had seen online grew significantly while en route. In my blog, I urged the DMV to post not just real-time wait times, but also historic data for different times of the day, days of the week, and weeks of the year. My state DMV has since started posting average historic wait times for each service location, but if a trip to a DMV office is necessary, this average information is of limited use.  It can help me decide which location to...

Four Ways to Boost Citizen Engagement

As citizens demand ever better digital services, many government organizations struggle to deliver them, even with larger investments in customer-focused programs. Connecting with the public goes beyond updating a website or posting to Facebook. Your agency needs high digital communication engagement rates to be effective in delivering services and programs.

In a recent webinar, “20 Tips to Boost Your Engagement,” the GovDelivery team shared best practices and tips from agencies that have successfully transformed citizens’ experience with government through better engagement.

These tips generally fit into a four categories: 

Have a Strategic Plan

The most important part of any plan to improve engagement is to know your organization’s goals and develop a strategy for achieving them. Every email, Tweet or Facebook post should push towards accomplishing those goals.

You can leverage existing content—such as printed materials—to incorporate into your digital communication templates. And you should test those templates to make sure they actually work. The subject lines in your email messages should make people want to open and read the messages, for example. You can compare the effectiveness of different approaches using A/B testing.

When the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office was trying to...

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