Forward Planning

Smallmindedness bothers me.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim any great intelligence for myself.  I’m just an average guy who thinks too much.  No, the smallmindedness that I despise comes in capitalist colors.  More specifically, it comes in the form of business-speak.  This is a language in which I make no claims of fluency, but in which I am forced to converse from time to time.  I believe there is a secret coven of businessmen hidden in a dark board room determined to make themselves sound intellectual by cobbling together polysyllables.  Business is, at the heart of it, really simple.  I want your money; how little can I give you for it?  They call economics the dismal science for a reason.  In any case, the other day I was confronted with the phrase “forward planning.”  It was like one of those moments when you walk into the wrong room and you’re disoriented for just a second or two because what you see is not what you expected through that door.  Forward planning.  What other kind of planning is there?  Backward planning?  Victims of time have no choice in the matter.
I’m bemused by the ubiquity of “best practices.”  No, thank you.  I prefer to use worst practices.  Of course we all want to do things the best way possible.  Putting insipid neologisms in the way is not how one achieves it.  What’s wrong with just saying what you mean?  Oh, I forgot—the guys in the shadowy boardroom.  There’s nothing like lingo to substitute for depth.
At a campus book sale a few weeks ago, I found a copy of the Compact Oxford Dictionary.  Fully aware that any word can be instantly searched online, I hefted the two, heavy volumes and for six dollars walked out with over a million words.  People on campus looked at me funny.  Someone even asked why in the world would I buy a dictionary?  There are plenty of answers I could give.  I could say that I like the feel of something solid in my hands when I practice scholarship.  I could say that it impresses people when you show them how small the type is.  I could say that I have some leaves I’d like to flatten effectively.  The truth, I suspect, you’ve already divined.  I bought these books because no matter how much you look, you won’t find “forward planning” listed anywhere as a legitimate concept.


3 thoughts on “Forward Planning

  1. I truly empathize here, Steve. After years in the corporate world, hearing and thinking past the improvised jargon for the purpose of covering up the inability to actually say something concrete that you can act upon is something that you get numb to. Sadly, it impacts morale and builds cynicism with every passing syllable.

    No more. If I need to use phrases that are unfamiliar to those who are listening or reading, I try to provide an earthier definition. Jargon is a crutch.


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