Approximately one month and a half ago I switched careers and ventured into a position with an entirely new industry. A large American corporation with a great reputation for honest dealings with the customer and a fun beginning it has been. There is a bit of pressure, but the freedom to go out and make sales suits me well.
However, it has also been quite a culture shock switching from a Japanese corporation to a pure American one. Not only must I get used to a more aggressive nature, but also a language I am completely unaccustomed to. This language is known as “corporate speak,” and is characterized mostly by phrases which emphasize action, positive results etc. One phrase in particular I would like to address is “Moving Forward.”
I’m not exactly sure which grammar category it would fall into but it is used to convey a meaning of “getting better,” “positive results,” “the future,” etc. The problem is that it is extremely addictive and thus akin to the teenage use of the word “like.” Thus, it can be used innumerous times but when used in excess really loses any and all meaning.
For example, one could say, “and moving forward, I really should come to a point with this post.” Or one could use it at the end of a sentence “I should really come to a point with this post, moving forward.” Or even, “I should really come to a point, moving forward, with this post. “Moving Forward,” is very versatile in nature but must always convey a meaning of a positive result in the future.
Another problem is that it has no opposite. One could never say, “Moving backward” or even “Moving Diagonally.” This would make no sense at all to any business person. It almost reminds me of a chess match in that the Pawns are the only ones that can move forward. Perhaps only a CEO of a company could say “Moving Sideways.” Therefore, “Moving Forward” is definitely not very agile of a statement. You “move forward” and that is the only direction you can go. If one did mention “moving backward” or even “standing still” they might get fired.
What I cannot understand however, is how this (verb?) became such a staple of business English. It is perhaps the most used in B.S. business card bingo which is a game where you check off the cliche business speak on your card, and should you get them all during a meeting you actually stand up and yell bingo!!!
Therefore, moving forward, I would like to propose a few other phrases in the hopes that they will dilute the plague of this too often used phrase.
1. Looking ahead
2. as we progress
3. as we proceed
4. moving along (well maybe not this one as it might convey something someone might say to a vagrant.)
5. with the future in mind
6. concerning the future
7. addressing the future
It has been a wonderful couple of weeks, but I’m afraid it is too soon to address this issue with my peers. I wonder if they would realize what I am doing should I start a meeting with, “moving forward, the company direction, moving forward, is one of great hope, moving forward, and we should all, moving forward, be cognizant of the fact that, moving forward, our paradigm has shifted so that, moving forward, we are all toeing the company line and moving forward.
Would they all nod in agreement I wonder? Would I perhaps get a standing ovation?
For further reading on this phenomenon, please see the following: