The language that we use around change, transformation and improvement is so important and that’s why I liked this concept of jump-starting innovation. The concept behind the paper (idea generation) wasn’t anything that I hadn’t heard before, but it was the words and energy created by them that really got me thinking.
Thinking back on change initiatives in your career, how often could you describe them as being invigorating or generating contagious excitement with a wow-factor in a high-energy environment?
Ok, well this could easily be dismissed as semantics or hype, but I believe that change activists have a crucial role to play in building energy for change through our choice of language.
What language do you use with the people around you when you talk about change?
What kind of emotions does your language evoke in others?
This article caught my attention because of how it left me feeling. In my early career, I was involved in a number of large-scale transformational efforts and looking back, I cannot recall feeling any of this buzz, let alone trying to invigorate others. Admittedly, I was influenced by those who used corporate speak; the type of language of traditional management text-books. It wasn’t until I took a risk (more through accident than design) that I realised I didn’t have to corporatise my language to be credible (well, not with those in my team, anyway). Of course, language is the icing on the cake, and if the cake contains the wrong ingredients or measurements, then it won’t rise. In other words, the language has to be congruent with the values, actions, behaviours and methods that underpin change else it is little more than spin.
How do you want others to feel about the change that you’re leading?
How can you change your language to help them?
I think the Voltaire Principle sums it up nicely, “An outsider introducing new language may incite radical change.”