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Fri, Feb 24th, 2012
MBA-ese and other horrors
Posted By: Angela Pause


I have a friend who is fluent in English and MBA. The problem is that I only understand English. So when she speaks in MBA-ese, I am baffled. I have to read each 35-word long sentence several times to understand what she means. Yet her point or points in her prose remains mysterious and hidden, like the Arc of the Covenant. The thing is, I know she's super smart. She is exceptionally capable in everything she does, except she loves her MBA-ese. Fortunately for her, there is a whole crowd of folks who eat that stuff up (government, lobbiests, policy makers, etc.) so she is not wrong to write that way. (I narrowly avoided writing "she is right to write that way". Oops)  But when the message is for everyone else, I need to take a word-wacker to her prose. 

But writing simply is a hella hard thing to do. Hemingway did it. Alice Munro continues to do it. Kurt Vonnegut Jr will always be missed and Malcolm Gladwell is a master at weaving stories out of stray threads. And my daughter at age 10 could do it.  The reason I put her in there was because she HATED writing. Absolutely did not want to spend any of her precious time writing down a bunch of words, so she made each sentence as short and to the point as possible. That kid could move a plot line along like a pro. And because she knew she had to have a beginning, a middle and an end, she stuck to that format. Which means her stories made sense, had wonderful leaps of faith and you were never bored with filler words designed to make her look smarter to her teachers. 

Alas, high school got a hold of her and the dreaded 2,000 word essay format raised its ugly head. Didn't matter that most kids stuffed their essays with filler words, thinking this made them look smart, but instead it made their essays tedious. I would much rather see 500 words of clarity and good writing with a solid message then a version stuffed with excess words like the dreaded turducken of Thanksgiving lore. I have taken to the idea that words are like calories. Too many and too many overly processed ones are bad. I want to write like I eat - mostly clean and lean.  With the occasional treat on the side (such as writing yet another blog). 

As for my MBA-speak friend, she knows when to wield her wordy sword  (when writing for lobbists or policy makers) and when to hand off her stuff to me so I can strip it down to its essence. It's a good system. 


Fri, Feb 24th, 2012 5:59pm
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