Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway deserves special praise for her bad writing awards.
Professors write so badly that it has become too easy to point out how bad it is. One is slightly surprised to find serious corporate executives, the people who have teams of PR geniuses combing over their every word, who can match the professorial elite for mangled syntax, incoherent phrasing and poor word choice.
If corporate types are guilty of verbal infelicity, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Kellaway begins by giving the Fallen Angel Award the Church of England for this syntactic jumble. The Church calls for:
… a radical step change in our development of leaders who can shape and articulate a compelling vision and who are skilled and robust enough to create spaces of safe uncertainty in which the Kingdom grows.
She adds that the CEO of AT&T had this to say one day:
We actually think that the industry is at a place where you can actually see line of sight to the subsidy equation just fundamentally changing in a very short period of time.
Only the most charitable soul would declare this sentence to be literate.
Kellaway grants the obfuscation award to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Responding to the leak of celebrity selfies from its cloud service, Cook said:
When I step back from this terrible scenario . . . I think about the awareness piece. I think we have a responsibility to ratchet that up. That’s not really an engineering thing.
She offers a euphemism award, or perhaps the inadvertent humor award, to EY, Ernst and Young, for explaining that, in firing a large number of staff, it was:
… looking forward to strengthening our alumni network.
Allow Kellaway to explain her choice for the Golden Flannel Award:
In choosing my overall Golden Flannel phrase of the year, I considered the dementing “does that resonate with your radar?” but quickly saw it was puny compared to the terrific new verb “to action forward” which I heard an otherwise sensible manager utter last month. “Actioning forward”, with its dazzling combination of two of the most irritating bits of jargon ever, resonates with my radar so powerfully I fear I may have broken it.