The people blamed for incentivizing companies to build mindshare, repurpose and utilize change agents have taken aim at their own lingo. Deloitte Consulting, an arm of the accounting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, has developed a free software program, dubbed Bullfighter, that identifies jargon in documents.
The goal is to make it easier for investors to decipher what companies say, said Chelsea Hardaway, the Deloitte marketing director who led the team that designed the software. We hope that it is a fun way to make business communications safer for all of us, Hardaway said. Upon request, she shifted effortlessly to the language of consultants and offered an alternative or perhaps the same explanation: We envision a center of excellence where our accelerated change agents can maximize their core competencies.
The software, which works like a spell-checking program to spot forbidden words and phrases in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents, is available on the Deloitte Web site at www.dc.com/ bullfighter.
The fact that a consulting firm comes up with it is somewhat ironic, said Tom Rodenhauser, president of Consulting Information Services in Keene, New Hampshire. After all, he said, consultants often introduce mysterious but important-sounding business terms that over time afflict the general population.
The terms are supposed to define what are otherwise very nebulous concepts, he said. Value-driven, mission-critical there's a misconception that consultants are great communicators. They're not. In some cases, they're the worst.
Hardaway's team at Deloitte began working on the software after a consultant in the firm's Dallas office posed a challenge: Instead of just talking about plain talk, design a tool to help people talk plainly. That consultant, Paul Keene, will probably be the firm's first chief bullfighting officer, Hardaway said.
It's sort of a 'Physician, heal thyself' kind of deal, she said. The software itself was relatively straightforward. The firm next held a contest to build a dictionary of forbidden bullwords. The winner of the Deloitte contest received a trip to the California Academy of Tauromaquia otherwise known as bullfighting school.
We got over 10,000 submissions, Hardaway said. Some of the most hated were 'leverage,' 'bandwidth,' 'touch base,' 'incentivize,' 'inoculate,' 'bleeding edge,' 'robust,' 'synergize' and 'envisioneer.'” Deloitte's consultants have used the software to analyze companies' filings and statements and have found a disturbingly high volume of bullwords in certain industries like computer software and hardware companies, Hardaway said. Experienced consultants do not use lingo anyway, said Chris Formant, head of the financial services consulting practice at BearingPoint.
I can see how as a training tool for young, fresh consultants, it might make a lot of sense, Formant said, referring to the software. It'd be kind of surprising to find that kind of gobbledygook and consultingese coming out of an experienced consultant.