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What is... going forward?

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Why is jargon so popular? In the sense, that is, of being widely used? Unfortunately, one reason is that some people think it makes them sound more dynamic.

If you genuinely think that the phrases ‘low-hanging fruit’ or ‘blue sky thinking’ make you come over as a little bit cutting-edge, then the world of tiresome management-speak is for you.

More forgivably, jargon can help professionals communicate in shorthand hence the sea of acronyms for which local government is so widely renowned. And sometimes, it can just be a corporate way of stating the blindingly obvious. Into this category falls the spuriousness of ‘going forward’.

Only Doctor Who, his numerous female assistants and the Tardis do anything but ‘going forward’. They can nip back to Pompeii or Shakespeare’s Globe at will. The rest of us must go forward into the next meeting, tomorrow morning and eventual retirement and old age.

‘Going forward’ does not even have the status of a euphemism. It is not code for ‘Shut up, I am now making the next point’. It just means ‘I am making the next point’. Thus, there is no need to say ‘going forward’ at all. Except that, if you didn’t, a moment would have passed during which you weren’t using any management jargon, and your colleagues might forget how dynamic you are.

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