Thursday, November 15, 2007

LangAlert: "Move-Forward Basis"


According to the Consumer Price Index, prices rose a significant 0.3 percent in September. The increase was blamed largely on rising food and energy costs.

In other news, according to the CLI (Corporate Linguaflation Index), verbal bullshit rose an even more aggressive 1.5 percent for the same month. The rise was blamed largely on the increasing use of the term "move-forward basis" in track-lit conference rooms throughout the country.

Surely you've heard this one. Instead of saying something clear and intelligible, like, "Okay, let's talk about where we go from here"... we now get, "Let's discuss the types of strategies and tactics we need to utilize to achieve success on a move-forward basis." (The kissing cousin "go-forward basis" can also be utilized... um, used.)

Move. Forward. Basis. This is another case where laziness does not account for change. (Otherwise, the term would be shorter and easier to say.)

It's really about packaging. Someone somewhere (I'm going to call him Ned) discovered that not every element of the abstract concept of "the future" had been fully colonized and packaged. "Sure," he thought, "we talk about tomorrow, looking ahead, planning for next quarter... but has anyone ever packaged the specific idea of 'what we're going to do once this meeting is over'?"

"A-ha!" screamed Ned. "An opportunity! I'm going to call this a 'move-forward basis.' It's catchy. It has action. It's dynamic. It sounds positive. It makes it seem like we're doing something whether we are or not. It expresses the intention to act, and that's almost as good as action itself. In fact, it's better, because there's no risk of failure."

And Ned used the term in his next meeting, and every accelerated MBA holder in the room thought, "Wow, that sounded good." And it spread like a virus.

Well, I'd like to banish this bit of linguistic flatulence to the ash heap of history. There. Done. Now, what should we do next?

2 comments:

Mike said...

...I'd say in the best interests of expedited facilitation, we future-allocate comments for later action.

Vegas Gopher said...

Conk -- see my blog for examples of how this happens in sports announcing, specifically football. It's a field ripe for harvesting, I realize, but I'm OK with dining on low-hanging fruit.