200 words NOT to use when selling to the public sector

Hurrah! In a gorgeous move, I've just read here that UK councils have been instructed to ditch the ridiculous jargon-riddled 'business speak' in favour of plain English.

The Local Government Association has compiled a list of 200 ridiculous words in common use that councils are instructed to ditch when communicating to the public so that normal people can understand what they're talking about.

Anybody who wants to sell to them (I'm thinking consulting firms in particular) should pay attention.

Some of my favourite 'illegal words' include:
  • Coterminous - all singing from the same hymn sheet
  • Cross-fertilisation - spreading ideas
  • Actioning - to do
... and my favourite:
  • Predictors of beaconicity - ???

Marie Clair of the Plain English Campaign (praised be its name) says:
"We call them 'rubber words' because they can be stretched whichever way you want to and then they bounce back at you."
Here is the full list of 200 words.

Readers: Have you heard any better examples? You must have come across some great ones. Please post your best ones as comments!!

Across-the-piece – everyone working together

Actioned – do

Advocate - support

Agencies - groups

Ambassador - leader

Area based – in an area

Area focused – concentrating on the area

Autonomous - independent

Baseline – starting point

Beacon – leading light

Benchmarking - measuring

Best Practice – best way

Blue sky thinking – thinking up ideas

Bottom-Up – listening to people

CAAs - why use at all?

Can do culture - get the job done

Capabilities -

Capacity - ability

Capacity building - enough room in the system

Cascading - why use at all?

Cautiously welcome – devil in the detail

Challenge - problem

Champion – best

Citizen empowerment ­– people power

Client - person

Cohesive communities – why use at all?

Cohesiveness - together

Collaboration – working together

Commissioning - buy

Community engagement – getting people involved

Compact - why use at all?

Conditionality ­­- why use at all?

Consensual - everyone agrees

Contestability - Why use at all?

Contextual - background

Core developments – main things that are happening

Core Message ­– main point

Core principles - beliefs

Core Value – belief

Coterminosity – all singing from the same hymn sheet

Coterminous – all singing from the same hymn sheet

Cross-cutting – everyone working together

Cross-fertilisation – spreading ideas

Customer – people/person

Democratic legitimacy – voted in

Democratic mandate – elected to put people first

Dialogue – talk/discuss

Direction of travel – way forward

Distorts spending priorities – ignores people’s needs

Double devolution - Why use at all?

Downstream - Why use at all?

Early Win – success

Edge-fit - Why use at all?

Embedded – set in

Empowerment – people power

Enabler - helps

Engagement – working with people

Engaging users ­– getting people involved

Enhance – improve

Evidence Base – research shows

Exemplar – example

External challenge – outside pressures

Facilitate – help

Fast-Track – speed up

Flex - Why use at all?

Flexibilities and Freedoms - more power to do the right thing

Framework – guide

Fulcrum – pivot

Functionality - use

Funding Streams - money

Gateway review - Why use at all?

Going forward – in the future

Good Practice – best way

Governance - Why use at all?

Guidelines – guide

Holistic – taken in the round

Holistic governance - Why use at all?

Horizon scanning - Why use at all?

Improvement levers – using the tools to get the job done

Incentivising – incentive

Income Streams – money/cash

Indicators - measurements

Initiative – idea

Innovative capacity - Why use at all?

Inspectorates – monitoring bodies

Interdepartmental – working together

Interface – talking to each other

Iteration - version

Joined up – working together

Joint working – working together

LAAs - Why use at all?

Level playing field – everyone equal

Lever - Why use at all?

Leverage - influence

Localities ­– places/town/city/village

Lowlights – worst bits

MAAs - Why use at all?

Mainstreaming - Why use at all?

Management capacity - Why use at all?

Meaningful consultation– talking to people

Meaningful dialogue – talking to people

Mechanisms - methods

Menu of Options – choices

Multi-agency ­– many groups

Multidisciplinary – many

Municipalities – towns/cities/areas

Network model - Why use at all?

Normalising – make normal

Outcomes – results

Outcomes - focused

Output - results

Outsourced - privatised

Overarching - Why use at all?

Paradigm - Why use at all?

Parameter - limits

Participatory – joining in

Partnership working – working together

Partnerships – working together

Pathfinder – Why use at all?

Peer challenge - Why use at all?

Performance Network - Why use at all?

Place shaping – creating places where people can thrive

Pooled budgets - money

Pooled resources – time and money

Pooled risk - Why use at all?

Populace - people

Potentialities - chances

Practitioners - experts

Predictors of Beaconicity – Why use at all?

Preventative services – protecting the most vulnerable

Prioritization – most important

Priority – most important

Proactive - Why use at all?

Process driven – shouldn’t everything be people driven?

Procure - buy

Procurement - buying

Promulgate - spread

Proportionality - in proportion

Protocol - guidance

Provider vehicles - Why use at all?

Quantum - Why use at all?

Quick Hit – success

Quick Win – success

Rationalisation - cut

Rebaselining - Why use at all?

Reconfigured - reform

Resource allocation – money going to the right place

Revenue Streams - money

Risk based – safest way

Robust - tough

Scaled-back – cut/reduce

Scoping – work out

Sector wise - Why use at all?

Seedbed – idea

Self-aggrandizement - Why use at all?

Service users – people

Shared priority ­– all working together

Shell developments - Why use at all?

Signpost – point in the direction of

Single conversations – talking to

Single Point of Contact – everything under one roof

Situational - situation

Slippage – delay

Social contracts ­ - deal

Social exclusion – poverty

Spatial - Why use at all?

Stakeholder – other organisations

Step Change – improve

Strategic - planned

Strategic priorities - planned

Streamlined – efficient

Sub-regional – work between councils

Subsidiarity – Why use at all?

Sustainable – long term

Sustainable communities – environmentally friendly

Symposium ­­– meeting

Synergies – what use at all?

Systematics - Why use at all?

Taxonomy - Why use at all?

Tested for Soundness ­– what works

Thematic - theme

Thinking outside of the box - Why use at all?

Third sector – charities and voluntary organisations

Toolkit - guidance

Top-Down – ignores people

Trajectory - route

Tranche - slice

Transactional - Why use at all?

Transformational – change

Transparency - clear

Upstream - Why use at all?

Upward trend – getting better

Utilise - use

Value-added – extra

Vision ­– ideal/dream/belief

Visionary – ideal/dream/belief

Welcome – necessary and needed/step in the right direction

Wellbeing - healthy

Worklessness - unemployed


  1. I always liked 'new oceans of opportunity' but my favourite has to be 'the art of the possible'

  2. Come to think of it, 'Going Forward' always gets up my nose. Going forward. Whenever someone says Going Forward, I have to stop myself from saying "What? As opposed to going backwards, thus eliminating the possibility of time travel from our discussion?"

  3. So you think we should be clearer in what we say? Hmmm. Just run that one up the flagpole for me so I can kick the tyres and check we're singing from the same hymn sheet with agreed beaconicity?