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letters We're drowning in a sea of management speak

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I liked your editorial, not overstated but sharp (aj 20.1.99). Now that the 'get Kelly' (Hellman, Shonfield et al) bandwagon is in motion, I guess it's not of much interest, but I always thought the board's own self-serving drivel as reproduced in the last annual report was a sure testament to the ethical and intellectual poverty of its privy council stooges - but not, thankfully, as it has turned out, the providence of a majority of its elected architect members - I italicise parts of the board's opening to its 1999 annual report below.

The board has responsibility for:

ensuring the high standards of corporate governance are observed at all times

establishing the overall strategic direction of the organisation

ensuring adequate monitoring of performance against objectives

And last (and presumably least):

ensuring that the consumer interest is protected.

I don't know if this is the riba's idea of 'generic management theory', but many commentators, maybe journalists too, would mistrust any form of 'corporate governance' which was so keen to use extra but redundant superlatives and the oxymoronic 'ensure' in particular. Mind you, the riba's new syllabus for Part 3 expects candidates to 'ensure an intention' - not a good omen. Maybe the arb has at least given us a working definition for incompetence. My own previous best guess was a failure to achieve a duty of result (but not a duty of care). You may remember some 'incompetent' heart surgeons.

Gordon MacLaren, London E9

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