Now Brainstorms are Off the Agenda

October 2005

David Brent would never approve. 'Brainstorming', the buzzword used by executives to generate ideas among their staff, has been deemed politically incorrect by civil servants because it is thought to be offensive to people with brain disorders. Instead staff at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) in Belfast will use the term 'thought-showers' when they get together to think creatively. A spokeswoman said: 'The DETI does not use the term brainstorming on its training courses on the grounds that it may be deemed pejorative.'

Sources inside the department said there was concern that the term would cause offence to people with epilepsy as well those with brain tumours or brain injuries. But the Campaign for Plain English complained that the decision had 'reached the point of real ridicule'.

'You do sometimes wonder if some people haven't got anything better to do with their time,' said spokesman John Wild. 'Do they just sit down and search out enough words until eventually they can say: "I can make that out to be politically incorrect"? 'Of course there are certain terms that should be deemed out of bounds, but then sometimes things go too far. I am certain that those who dreamt this up are not suffering from any brain disease or injury. They just want to find offence anywhere they can stumble across it'.

The move follows that of the Welsh Development Agency, set up to promote business in Wales, which ran a series of courses last year to teach staff to be more politically correct. 'Brainstorming' was on its list of banned words, as well as 'nit-picking' and 'manila', because of their origins in the slave trade.