Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Translating Bureaucratese

People tend to read documents and messages from their own individual perspectives. Oftentimes, one person’s translation will differ significantly from another’s depending on their experience, knowledge and self-interest. Take, for example, the following edited version of an e-mail I recently received at work and the various ways different people might translate it:

"You may recall our CEO speaking of our department’s Enterprise Business Renewal (EBR) at our last AGM as being a critical component to our future and to implementing our Strategic Plan. This initiative is now well underway across the organization.
The initial work has been ongoing in our branch to map our processes. This work has been completed and we are now moving into the process modernization assessment phase where areas and elements for process improvement need to be identified.
I am writing to seek your participation during this assessment phase to provide input on process improvement opportunities that exist in our area of work. If required, you may also be approached by our representative on the EBR Project Management Team (PMT), or myself, to attend a meeting/workshop in order to gather your input. These meetings/workshops will be facilitated by CGI consultants who are working with the EBR PMT.
The next step will be to gather results of these meetings and hold a horizontal workshop with all product line branches to confirm the identified process improvements. You can also stay informed on progress by taking a look at the EBR Steering Committee records of discussion on our internal web site."

Non-government worker
This makes no sense to me. The only thing I can tell for sure is that more of my tax money is going down the drain.

Plain English speaker
The big boss wants to make things more efficient. If you’ve got any ideas, let me know and I’ll pass them up the line. I’ll keep you informed if anything happens.

Long term employee
Senior management is engaged in another pointless exercise. Since participation is optional, the e-mail can be ignored and deleted.

Überbureaucrat in junior position
Looking to get ahead? Hoping to climb the government career ladder? Then get onboard with Enterprise Business Renewal. Volunteer for any and all meetings. Come prepared with lots of ideas that sound like they will enhance efficiency even if they don’t. Contact our EBR Project Management Team rep as soon as possible to volunteer for workshops, meetings, bake sales or whatever it takes to get you noticed. Have an EBR t-shirt made and wear it at all meetings. This could be your ticket to a corner office.

Senior bureaucrat
Boy am I glad I don’t have to do this nonsense anymore. Luckily, I’m high enough up the chain that all I have to do is pass the results on to be shelved with all the other efficiency reports gathering dust.

As you know, our CEO initiated EBR at the AGM. This initiative is WUW (well underway) across the organization. The initial work has included MOP (mapping our processes) and BRI (branch responsibility initiatives). We are now entering the PMAP where the MOP and BRI will be fused by the EBR PMT into a LTIP (long term implementation plan). CGI consultants and IHEs (in-house experts) will coordinate the final product through HWS (horizontal workshops) with the PLBs (product line branches).

I assume AGM means "annual general meeting" but what the heck is a horizontal workshop?

Thank God for new government initiatives!

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