Business jargon: Squaring the circle

Howard Mustoe:

“Putting together the pipelines,” was how Pfizer chief executive Ian Read explained his proposed takeover of British drugmaking rival AstraZeneca.
 “Let’s make sure we get good capital allocation… build a culture of ownership… flexible use of financial assets… productive science… opportunity to domicile… putting together the headcount,” were among his phrases as he faced MPs last month, much to the frustration of committee members.
 “I asked a simple question,” committee chairman Adrian Bailey said at one point.
 Use of jargon is not a new phenomenon, but businesses are leaving their customers and even their own staff scratching their heads about where their firms are going and where they themselves stand.
 “This jargon is tribal and reinforces belonging,” says Alan Stevens, director of Vector Consultants, which advises companies on culture. “It’s part of the psyche. But it’s not useful.”