Learn the lingo, see the system

Here’s a little note.

One privilege of being a consultant in organizational development is the experience of differences. As a change strategist, I’ve saw how people change as things are changing at work. I also meet different people from different type of business undergo different kind of changes.

Like a traveling journalist, I engage with different workplace with different people. The major difference to a journalist is that I travel from one organizational project to another.

That’s where I see ‘the post Babel Tower effect’ : how people do speak differently in different workplaces. Linguistically speaking, they may speak in similar language. But, they speak with their own style, style that connects to the culture of their organization.

It’s not just language of certain nationality, or ethnicity, or region. It’s a way people converse in an organization. It’s organizational lingo.

Organizational lingo is less about vocabulary, and more about how that vocabulary is being used in daily work interactions. Of course there are specific words involved in any type of business. Terms in conversation among IT programmers must be different with those among bankers. While IT industry’s geek people are talking about cloud computing, bankers may discuss about the increasingly popular carbon offset trading.

Therefore, the topic and the way they talked about it are bounded as unique way to address things. This organizational lingo, is the echo of the system. By listening to them, we’ll be able to get a sense of how things are being done. If we are lucky enough, we may see the organizational culture through the lingo.

For the least benefit, it’s always fun to hear the subtle style in the way people who work in the same system are communicating. It’s worth the sensation and curiosity.


4 thoughts on “Learn the lingo, see the system

  1. Wittgenstein called it language games. It is the rule of the game in particular context. It is also incommensurable. We can not judge a particular set of language game with the established criteria from other language game. It is the particular way of life. It is the zeitgeist of certain organization. It is part of their spirit and value.

  2. Yes, you’re right. There is a particular rules of the game applies in every organization’s way of conversing. This is actually a very central in understanding what are the core values of the organization. Regarding this particular intention, you’ve mentioned a very poignant statement in your comment: We can’t judge it with the criteria of other language game! This is often become a challenge in understanding organization. Instead of learning and see what are the actual rules, we have the tendency of imposing the framework we brought in to measure inside situation.

    1. hahaha.. I used to do that also, namely judge another organizational activities from my particular framework, and forget to phenomenologically understand it. There is great insight in phenomenology concerning this matter. We need so see the object in itself, not clouded by the way we want to see it. It is also important principle in research method.

      1. I think it applies in even broader context than just research and phenomenological inquiry. I’ve been seeing how important this in many decision making process. Failing to see the organization as it is may lead to inaccurate decisions. This is more likely the same with most decisions in our life. So, I see this as intensely relevant in many things in our life.

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