Change from the Bottom up LO5355
Mon, 5 Feb 1996 07:36:11 -0500

Replying to LO5336 --

Julie says:

>how do we decide where to start....? my sense is that we need to continue
>to develop ways of bringing the whole system together.... top, bottom,
>middle, inside, outside, etc... and work to understand how the whole
>interacts... how everybody's problems create a system mess..... and stop
>trying to start top down... or bottom up... or middle out... but work on
>the whole simultaneuously... oh but... this might need leaders who are
>prepared to do this ... oh dear now where do we start!!!!

The concept of "shared linguistic domain" suggests the idea that there
might be at least three linguistic tiers in any sizeable organization.
Let's call them the TOP, the MIDDLE, and the BOTTOM, where the names are
for convenience only.

LANGUAGE AT THE TOP. It is full of metaphors and buzz-words, and
emphasizes money and connections between the organization and the outside

LANGUAGE IN THE MIDDLE. It is full of matters related to accountability
of the BOTTOM to the MIDDLE and, especially, of the MIDDLE to the top (but
hardly ever of the whole organization to anyone, unless involved in the

LANGUAGE AT THE BOTTOM. It is full of the language of doing the everyday
functions that keep the organization going, while trying to overcome the
many constraints imposed on people nowadays of the type discussed in the

If this is approximately right, the linguistic barriers to communicating
about change are very severe, and if not given top priority in the
organization, will probably be adequate to prevent change.

On the other hand, the organization that understands the need to make
investments that cut across the linguistic walls effectively is likely to
see change coming from all directions.

John N. Warfield
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