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I Heard You. I Think.

June 22, 2003

Although you'd never know it listening to television or reading corporate reports, clear language remains an important means of communication. Mollycoddling the obsequious obfuscators who leverage an extensible repository of blather is a continuous threat to understanding what's really happening anywhere, regardless of critical causality.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the Enron and other corporate accounting scandals where really impressive-sounding terms were sprinkled, then poured and ultimately shoveled into corporate public statements.

Drawing on its own internal corporate synergies and creative visualizations, a team at Deloitte Consulting has invested nine months imagineering a dictionary of some 350 "bullwords," phrases and words that often indicate less an attempt to communicate ideas than an effort to obliterate them. It then developed a computer program that can be applied much like computer spell-checking systems to, say, a company's annual report.

Bullfighter, as the program is called, detects bullwords and jargon-jammed passages that are free of meaning. Users then can rate the company. Too many bullwords tips investors that there's more being hidden than revealed. They then can put their money into a more transparent enterprise.

"That's a good indicator of the linkage between clear and straight communications and business performance, including the issue of transparency and trust," said Brian Fugere, a Deloitte partner. In short, Fugere and his no-nonsense team have had it with repurposeable, value-added knowledge capital and robust, leverageable mindshares. It was truly incentivizing to expunge such talk from the entire team's bandwidth and envisioneer a day when clear talk will be triumphalistic.

Applied to 30 gigantean companies, Deloitte found Home Depot the best on clarity, while computer hardware and software companies were the most graveolent and contraindicated. In Enron statements, Bullfighter detected arcane verbosity and verbal fog deepening with the company's troubles.

Of course, users of the program, downloadable exempt from cost at www.dc.com/bullfighter, might also apply Bullfighter to the ritual utterances of indecipherable political verbiage that seem likely in coming calendrical rotations. Rather like a consumer's guide to flatulent phrasings and ideational argumentations by disputatious and controversialistic oppositionists. And then voters could expunge the wordy perpetrator from their intended balloting patterns.

Clearly, newspapers are free of obese verbosity and every minute hold clarity and conciseness as achievable endpoints. Thanks to Bullfighter's externalization and to similar programs yet developed for other areas, the eternal struggle against wordy obtuseness may gain valuable yardage, marching down the field to the end zone of better communications.

Now, that's a new paradigm.

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