Posted on Saturday, September 18, 2010 in Communication
Transformation is linguistic in nature. Yet we have forgotten this in Western culture and our institutions. Our culture is so focused on the short term and the present. We largely use a mechanistic, lean, efficient language that has served us well at times, but like anything that is overused and out of balance, it has had its costs. We have forgotten the long line of history of story and myth that articulates our humanity. Take for the example the creation story in Genesis. (Whether you believe it or not, doesn’t matter for the sake of my point. The story articulates a human need about creation. Every religion has a comparable story.)
In Genesis, the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon it until God spoke and said “Let there be light.” God had to speak, had to form words, for light, plants, animals and man to come into being. God didn’t just think things into being. God had to make the private public.
We fill the void by speaking, by giving voice to our ideas and speaking or writing to bring them into being Without the word made incarnate, the word made flesh, the word made real and given form, life is formless and void.
What is the relevance for modern organizations? Language is tied to almost everything modern organizations care about: strategic alignment, engagement, creativity, commitment, accountability, innovation. Rooms in institutions have to be spacious enough to allow a bigger, more inclusive language to exist in them. Organizational results will suffer if people can’t say what they stand for, if they can’t give voice to their ideas, if they can’t express their doubts about the strategy, and if they can’t use a more vibrant, alive language than what is typically permissible or the norm.
Book Image: GeraldBrazell