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Synergy' Cut the bull

New York, June 17 (Reuters): A new software programme sends a clear message to corporate America — cut out the bull.

New York-based Deloitte Consulting admits it helped foster confusing, indecipherable words like “synergy”, “paradigm”, and “extensible repository”, but now it has decided enough is enough. It is scheduled to release Bullfighter to help writers of business documents to avoid jargon and use clear language.

“We’ve had it with repurposeable, value-added knowledge capital and robust, leveragable mindshare,” Deloitte Consulting partner Brian Fugere said.

Bullfighter, as the software is called, could help investors spot troubled companies.Employed to test language used by now-bankrupt energy trader Enron from 1999 through 2001, Fugere said the programme found “it got progressively more obscure as they got deeper and deeper into trouble.

“We think that’s a good indicator of the linkage between clear and straight communications and business performance, including the issue of transparency and trust, which is such a big issue these days,” Fugere said.

Marketing director Chelsea Hardaway said employees had fun developing the programme over nine months. They came up with about 10,000 “bullwords”. The final version has a dictionary of 350 words and gives users the ability to add more.

“It flags your bullwords but then it gives you sort of a good-humoured lashing over why you have used those words,” Hardaway said of the programme, which works on Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents much like those that check spelling.

The firm said employees voted “leverage” as the most hated word, followed by “bandwidth” and “touch base”. Other incomprehensible words were “incentivise,” and“envisioneer.”

The programme, which can be downloaded free at http://www.dc.com/bullfighter, was tested on statements by 30 big US companies. Home improvement retailer Home Depot was first for clarity on the Bull Index, while computer hardware and software companies suffered the lowest scores for readability.

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