Test drive: Cut the bull

Written by Lee Oliver

Ahh, sweet irony. The same people — consultants — who brought “incentivize” and “envisioneer” to the business lexicon are taking aim at their own babble — and, by extension, yours.

This summer, Deloitte Consulting released Bullfighter, a free add-on to popular office software designed to exorcise business documents filled with jargon and clunky prose.

PROFIT fed several passages into Bullfighter, including this one from the brochure of a CRM software producer: “(Our) enterprise customer hub gives organizations a unified view of their customer across multiple product and business silos and injects real-time customer knowledge into day-to-day operations, executing event-based transactions through all channels.”

Bullfighter justifiably gave the passage a Flesch Reading Ease mark of 2.1 (zero is terribly hard, 100 is simplistic and good business writing usually scores around 70). But, to our shock, it also gave the passage an “excellent” Bull rating, based on a lack of identifiable jargon. Bullfighter’s only suggestions were to replace “enterprise” with “business” or “company” and to use shorter words and sentences. And its analysis of equally appalling paragraphs produced similar results.

“That red and black bull icon on your Word and PowerPoint toolbar could change your life,” reads the Bullfighter Web page (www.dc.com/insights/bullfighter). Now that’s bull. Until Bullfighter incorporates a comprehensive dictionary of jargon, the product will remain a toy.

By the way, Bullfighter works only in conjunction with the Windows XP and 2000 versions of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and can conflict with other software. When we installed Bullfighter, Acrobat Reader disappeared from our hard drive.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com