Clients like to tease us about the use of ‘Consultantese’ – but which bit of consultancy jargon gets on your nerves the most? Is it ‘blue sky thinking’, ‘driving the performance agenda’, or ‘paradigm shift’?

It’s fun to sit in the audience at a presentation (enduring ‘death by Powerpoint’) and tick off the phrases in a surreptitious game of ‘bulls**t bingo’ – but not so much fun if you’re the poor presenter hearing the cry of ‘House!’
At a recent late-night bid preparation session, we spent some time working on the final presentation, picking out the worst offenders and replacing them with clear English. I recalled a presentation in which the speaker referred to ‘bricks-and-mortar retail outlets’ – to which one of the clients responded “Do you mean shops?”
So I thought I’d try a rather dangerous challenge. Which one out of four leading consultancies (Capgemini, Accenture, Deloitte, or PwC) is the worst offender for jargon?
We took our favourite examples of consultancy jargon, typed them into the search box in each company’s website, and counted the number of hits:
Consultant Talk.PNG
So what does this tell us? Deloitte seem to enjoy ‘going forward’ (do they think that the rest of us are great advocates for going sideways or backwards?); PwC believe they add value, and Accenture are keen on rolling out.
On the face of it, Deloitte are the worst culprits for ‘Consultantese’ and Capgemini are paragons of clear speaking. But before we start getting too smug, it’s worth doing one final check (or ‘performance benchmark calibration’). What if the websites are different sizes? To test for this, we carried out the same search comparison, using two standard words we’d expect to see regularly – ‘client’ and ‘project’. We can then calculate the ratio of jargon to standard – and call it the Bull Index:
Consultant Talk 2.PNG
Once again, Deloitte are bottom of the league, but there’s no room for complacency in Capgemini. And if you find yourself asking your family what their ‘key strategic outcomes’ are for the weekend, perhaps it’s time to start worrying!