Consultants often make a living in jargon. We invent words, phrases and concepts to try and make complex ideas simpler and sometimes to make simple ideas more complex. As a result businesses live in the same world. Businesses also use the same jargon as a way of dispersing accountability. There are a number of words and phrases that underpin traditional strategy development. We all know them. We all use them……and secretly we all hate them. Vision, Mission, Critical Success Factor, Initiative, Framework, Current state, Future state, Roadmap. The list goes on. These words have been used so often and of so poorly that they have become largely meaningless. They lack any impact whatsoever.
The overuse and misuse of these words is a fundamental part of why strategy projects generally lack impact. They have been used to the point of making them meaningless. How do we bring life back to strategy projects? One way to start is by changing the language we use. We need to find language that causes us to have a reaction as humans. Language that helps us understand categorically what is meant. Language that has a call to action, and language that endures. Otherwise – why bother?
I don’t think there is no need for a single universal language that should be all things to all people. That’s what got us to where we are today. Rather we should be building and deciding on a language that is right for the context that we are in. That context could be the organisation and its specific culture, or the problem or challenge that we are trying to overcome. Organisations and individuals will respond differently depending on history, culture and the market they are in.
Time thinking about the language we use to articulate a strategy during its development would be well spent. Anything that could make the strategy more engaging and meaningful is worthwhile. Falling in to the same old language of the past is lazy and we should demand more of ourselves as well as our thinking.
One thought on “Perhaps if we change the language…..”
We could just go back to plain English. For example less “leverage” more “use”. Interesting, the meaning of “leverege” has somehow been lost. I think there’s also a very common driver in consulting, you’re paying me a lot for this, I need to sound smart. Quite often a lot of the language used is an effort to prove we’re worth what you’re paying us. I do think its maybe more often taking a simple idea and making it sound complex, becuase afterall, that’s a bit easier than going the other way around.