Management Insult 3: Due Diligence

For a while now, I’ve been building a series of definitions of ‘management-speak’ terms that insult human intelligence. One day I might even find a publisher and release them as a dictionary, but for now, I thought I’d share a few of them from time to time. I make no apologies for these being slightly tongue in cheek. My argument is that for a leader to be effective they need to be grounded in the real world and not delude themselves through their use of obfuscating language.

Due Diligence

A term that appeared in the popular press in the late 1990s to describe the investigative process that a business ought to go through prior to the acquisition of another business. Quickly began to drip from the lips of just about every ‘knowledge worker’ (qv) whenever they were doing a minor bit of research before making a decision – regardless of the situation.

May be used passive aggressively to accuse someone of having failed to do their homework: “Surely that would have emerged when you did due diligence?”

Similarly, a passive aggressive use of the term, to put down someone’s excitement at being offered a great new job: “Well I suppose that you have done your due diligence and are comfortable with them as potential employers?”

Also used to make others aware of how you are now in the BIG league: “Of course, we had to peform due diligence, but once that was through we leapt at the opportunity.” Which, roughly translated means: “It was an incredible opportunity, well beyond anything I would normally encounter, but I wanted to look cool before leaping at it.”

The mysterious findings can be used to cover up for our own risk aversion: “Well, some things seem too good to be true, and when the results of our due diligence process were considered we could see that this was one of those where it simply wasn’t true!” Which also means: “It was something way out of my league, and it terrified me, so I wanted a good reason to delay and then give me a way of explaining that I was not going to do anything about it.”

Best wishes

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