Management Illiteracy: “decisioned”

On January 12, 2009, in Language, by Rob Levandowski

Some of the managers where I work have that unique form of functional illiteracy wherein they use words that sound like, but are not, English.  These words are supposed to be a jargon that, I suppose, they believe makes them sound very managerial, intelligent, and possessed of secret knowledge not known to the mere mortal rank-and-file.

In reality, it just makes them sound like idiots to anyone that actually understands English.

A case in point: the management-jargon word “decisioned.”

Example usage:

We haven’t yet decisioned which software package we’re going to use. The management team is still conducting the decisioning process.

People actually believe this makes them sound smart…

The proper English way to say that would be

We haven’t decided which software package we’re going to use. The management team is still deciding.

Note the use of the perfectly good English words “decided” and “deciding.” Everybody understands those common English words, whereas only managers see the point in creating new words for the same concept. I wonder what made them decide to invent “decisioning?”

To be fair, “decisionedis a real English word. Unfortunately for the managers, it has a very specific meaning. It’s used only in relation to the sport of boxing, where it means the awarding of a fight to a boxer on the basis of points instead of a knockout.  Knowing this, management conference calls about project statuses are often unintentionally hilarious.  I never knew that management was so pugilistic!


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