Management Insults 2: "Pro Bono"

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.

Pro Bono

A term of exceptional arrogance and condescension, used by people who think they are being very generous by giving a tiny amount of their time to a ‘good cause’ and want everyone to know how much it has cost them.

Increasingly heard from the lips of management consultants (and other ‘knowledge workers’), and even reproduced in their literature, as part of the selling process, as in: “We encourage our staff to offer some of their time pro bono to worthy causes.” Employed as a way of differentiating them from their competitors.

Patronisingly assumes that their gems of wisdom are to be valued above the contributions of full-time staff and those of highly committed, but less conceited, volunteers who have given their time unlauded for many years.

Best wishes
Graham Wilson

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