Boardroom Babble From The Dictionary of Jabberwocky

The request was simple enough – the job was to coach members of a multicultural management team over a period of time to ensure that they were sufficiently prepared with data/facts that supported their agenda items at the monthly management meeting which I would facilitate. The goal was to ensure greater efficiency, commitment, and enhanced understanding from those meetings.

 The first “meeting:

Prior to the coaching the area manager felt it would be advantageous for me to attend one of the management meetings…

There were 9 people around the table; amongst their native languages were Spanish, Arabic, French, Hindi, Punjabi, Babble and Jabberwocky. Unknown to me the Babble, and Jabberwocky dialogue was strictly reserved for management meetings,

Curiouser and Curiouser

So the verbal humbug began, -The head of purchasing wanted to play hardball so he stuck to his knitting  focusing on himself and the needs of his department often at the expense of others. That of course has a red flag effect on the head of finance Boardroom Babble From The Dictionary of Jabberwockywho felt he was losing control of his hoard of beans..

The distribution manager forgot his lines completely and blew hot and cold throughout the meeting generally testiculating, he eventually gave up – after all “if at first you don’t succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried and eventually you will be able to say I told you so!”.

The marketing manager, ruthless with a perfect smile – a deceptionist, constantly fired arrows at the sales manager who went into combat by throwing in a bag of snakes. The CEO (a Jargonaut”) revealed his true mastery of ridiculous jargon with his robust vocabulary, uttering a monologue of verbal dribble none of this burble made any sense and everyone yet everyone agreed.

Boardroom Babble From The Dictionary of Jabberwocky

Feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland  I was reminded of Alice’s reaction to the poem “Jabberwocky” How is it that a poem can be full of nonsense, and apparently devoid of meaning, but still sound like proper English?  Few people understand what the poem is about just like the meeting I had just witnessed full of nonsense, and devoid of meaning.

Management decision-making is negatively affected by conflicts of interest, emotional attachments, dominant personalities, entrenched attitudes, and expectations which stem from our prior experience and past decisions,

This group had become egocentric and self-focused, this behaviour placed limits on their capacity to understand the viewpoints of others people, which may have provided much needed insight.

Boardroom Babble From The Dictionary of JabberwockyIndividuals at the group used jargon which created a smoke screen, and had the effect of forcing listeners to create their own meaning behind the speaker’s words, rather than seamlessly receiving the information.

 Just as Lewis Carol used nonsensical words in The Jabberwocky that convey a message that is unique to every reader according to the way one interprets it, and we simply cannot have nine interpretations of the meaning and consequences of actions as people leave a management meeting.

 Perhaps it’s time to slay the jabberwocky

Prior to preparing for your next meeting consider your contribution and its likely effect on outcomes, are you clear about who’s supposed to do what to whom with how much and when?  That analysis will lead to the kind of information that nearly everyone wants and needs to know to enable them to move forward.

  • Extract from Jabberwocky Lewis Carroll

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!”

 All Clear?

Sound Familiar? Take a look at our Managing Meetings Course if you feel the need to slay your jabberwocky’s and get your meetings back on track: