Predictors of What?


Whilst out and about on Wednesday afternoon, I heard that councils in England and Wales have been "banned" from using 200 words and phrases most generously referred to as "jargon" and by others as "gobbledegook." My particular favourite is "Predictors of beaconicity" which, even as someone who is relatively fluent in jargon and gobbledegook, is a mystery to me.

The following is the complete list. See if you can spot any of your favourites... or would you like to add any?:

Across-the-piece; Actioned; Advocate; Agencies; Ambassador; Area based; Area focused; Autonomous; Baseline; Beacon; Benchmarking; Best Practice; Blue sky thinking; Bottom-Up; CAAs; Can do culture; Capabilities; Capacity; Capacity building; Cascading; Cautiously welcome; Challenge; Champion; Citizen empowerment; Client; Cohesive communities; Cohesiveness; Collaboration; Commissioning; Community engagement; Compact; Conditionality; Consensual; Contestability; Contextual; Core developments; Core Message; Core principles; Core Value; Coterminosity; Coterminous; Cross-cutting; Cross-fertilisation; Customer; Democratic legitimacy; Democratic mandate; Dialogue; Direction of travel; Distorts spending priorities; Double devolution; Downstream; Early Win; Edge-fit; Embedded; Empowerment; Enabler; Engagement; Engaging users; Enhance; Evidence Base; Exemplar; External challenge; Facilitate; Fast-Track; Flex; Flexibilities and Freedoms; Framework; Fulcrum; Functionality; Funding streams; Gateway review; Going forward; Good practice; Governance; Guidelines; Holistic; Holistic governance; Horizon scanning; Improvement levers; Incentivising; Income streams; Indicators; Initiative; Innovative capacity; Inspectorates; Interdepartmental; Interface; Iteration; Joined up; Joint working; Level playing field; Lever; Leverage; Localities; Lowlights; MAAs; Mainstreaming; Management capacity; Meaningful consultation; Meaningful dialogue; Mechanisms; Menu of Options; Multi-agency; Multidisciplinary; Municipalities; Network model; Normalising; Outcomes; Output; Outsourced; Overarching; Paradigm; Participatory; Partnership working; Partnerships; Pathfinder; Peer challenge; Performance Network; Place shaping; Pooled budgets; Pooled resources; Pooled risk; Populace; Potentialities; Practitioners; Predictors of Beaconicity; Preventative services; Prioritization; Priority; Proactive; Process driven; Procure; Procurement; Promulgate; Proportionality; Protocol; Provider vehicles; Quantum; Quick hit; Quick win; Rationalisation; Rebaselining; Reconfigured; Resource allocation; Revenue Streams; Risk based; Robust; Scaled-back; Scoping; Sector wise; Seedbed; Self-aggrandizement; Service users; Shared priority; Shell developments; Signpost; Single conversations; Single point of contact; Situational; Slippage; Social contracts; Social exclusion; Spatial; Stakeholder; Step change; Strategic; Strategic priorities; Streamlined; Sub-regional; Subsidiarity; Sustainable; Sustainable communities; Symposium; Synergies; Systematics; Taxonomy; Tested for Soundness; Thematic; Thinking outside of the box; Third sector; Toolkit; Top-down; Trajectory; Tranche; Transactional; Transformational; Transparency; Upstream; Upward trend; Utilise; Value-added; Vision; Visionary; Welcome; Wellbeing; Worklessness.

As a woman from the campaign for Plain English said, such jargon does have a limited place within professions, as all those within certain rooms will know the complicated ideas concealed behind a single piece of jargon, thus shortening converstations substantially; but they can also be used as professional shibboleths... That's a piece of Biblical jargon, but let me explain: in the Book of Judges the Israelites used the word shibboleth as a password, because the surrounding nations pronounced their "sh" as an "s" and said "sibboleth." Often jargon is used in the same way: to demonstrate who is in or out of those "in the know." At its most positive this can, if the individual or group's knowledge to the background of such jargon is tested, can be a means of weeding out those who really know what they are talking about, or, at its worst, can be a means of ticking boxes for funding applications or jobs... say enough of the magic words and you are in.

Although a word such as "vision" has a clear theological/Biblical dimension, the church has been slow to pick up this secret language that opens so many doors to funding and areas of influence. I often joke that I would have been better learning public sector jargon in theological college rather than Greek or Hebrew. But you do see it creeping into church leadership speak, particularly as we discover/rediscover/reinvent the idea of community engagement (one of the "banned" phrases) as part of the core principles (another no-no) of the church.
This "banned" list doesn't apply to Northern Ireland, and I am not so sure that I approve of banned lists of many things (apart from those things that annoy me of course). Where there are internal conversations to be had, be they in councils or churches, we will always have our shorthand, jargonesque terms... Councils have "benchmarking" and "subsidiarity", theologians have "justification" and "sanctification", but I would agree that these terms shouldn't be used when seeking to communicate more widely... And I will try to use less of such gobbledegook in future...

But surely there can never, ever, be any excuse to use the phrase "predictors of beaconicity?

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