Friday, June 20, 2008

An example of bad business writing

Sorry to dog the English since they usually do have a better command of the English language than do Americans, but here's an example of business writing at is worst.

This was recently disseminated interoffice in an insurance setting in England:

The new Bulletins system was launched on 24 March 2008. This is information regarding how HO Underwriting will utilise the system to communicate changes. Previously, communications specific to the Regions were termed Circulars andthose to Agents were Technical Bulletins. All information will now be issued via the system as Bulletins, so to differentiate between them for the purposes of explaining how the system will be used, we will refer to circulars as "regional instructions" and Technical bulletins as "general instructions".

Regions will receive advance notice of general instructions via e-mail.When published, Regions and Agents will receive the standard e-mail notification produced by the system. If you do not receive the automated e-mails that colleagues get, please contact the Service Desk to check your inclusion in the e-mail group "Networked Group Secretaries" or "UnderwritingBulletins (Advance Notice)" (or a sub-group therein). [Editorial comment: If you didn't get it, how do you know you didn't get it?]

General instructions will be made available for everyone to read and can be accessed through the Bulletin system via the (their internal intranet).(Link on the left side of the Agents page and also on the Underwriting homepage). Some bulletins may only be relevant to the Regional Underwriters (regional instructions), in which case they will be targeted at this group so that others do not receive unnecessary communications.

Therefore, if some bulletins have a limited audience, an individual's view may not include all sequencial numbers, but you will have access to bulletins relevant to yourself. Details are included in the Underwriting Procedures manual, (accessed via the Underwriting Manuals page on (their internal intranet) under: Account Management Programme / Underwriting Bulletins : Guide to issuingUnderwriting Instructions (via the Bulletins system).

Please continue to liaise with your Region regarding clarification of the detail of any bulletins, who can then liaise with HO as necessary. Any problems accessing the Bulletin system itself can be directed to the Service Desk.

Whew! I don't know about you, but I'm lost! Can you really afford to send that kind of communication to your staff? If the information is important enough to communicate, it should be right! Business communications should be crisp, clear and to the point. People can't and won't take the time to "extract" the message from the mess.