Conversational Paradigm LO5883
Wed, 28 Feb 1996 08:57:05 -0500

Replying to LO5761 --

* Language can be used to create a new reality
* Transformation of a company begins with new language
* A book called The Phoenix Agenda by John Whiteside that I just read
* Anyone else have similar thoughts?

LO= Learning Organization... a la Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline

I just read a book called The Phoenix Agenda and it helped me coalesce
some thoughts I've had for a while, around how language can be used either
a) to describe our view of reality OR b) create/generate a whole new

Personally, I think of when I go home to Jamaica, and how I must listen
keenly to the "new" words. Jamaicans speak a local English patois that is
constantly being reinvented, added to and subtracted from and when I've
been away for awhile it takes me some work to hear and understand the new
words that have been coined.

We have all the English words, but have also invented words to capture the
nuances that English doesn't capture. Often, the only way to understand a
word is to understand the context, and what these words provide is a much
fuller, richer description of life. Even a richer EXPERIENCE of life.

A fuller, richer description of what? To me the listener, the new words
open up a whole new world that never existed before. To the FIRST person
who coined the word, and then used it, it must have been like giving birth
to a new domain of science/speculation/inquiry.

And all this happens by accident, or at least unintentionally.

If I think about organizations, in hindsight I see that words/phrases like
reengineering and total quality are basically invented. Recently
invented. If in retrospect, someone successfully opened up a whole new
area of inquiry by creating new language (if you disagree, try doing it
WITHOUT new language) then I'd say that we can deliberately do this...
intentionally do this.

I assert that it's an important missing in our conversations on the
mail-list. And the reason why I'll say that the concept of a Learning
Organization has not caught on the way reengineering has. At its face
value, reengineering seems to be more "simple" and not as rich in
distinctions as that of an LO. I say that to make LO's occur in reality
will take new, invented distinctions* that reside in language.

As proof, I offer the most recent postings on the mail-list. I don't
"hear" anything new being said or distinguished, and I don't hear new
language. For me, this could just as well be a list of any name, such as
"Improving Companies."

(Please don't hear this as a flame - I'm not trying to blame or make
anyone wrong!)

I'd like us to begin the work started in the Conversational Paradigm
thread, and to actually craft new language tools (distinctions*) that
empower us in our work with Learning Orgs.

When I stand in the future of LO's, I see new language all around. To get
there from here could be left to chance... or we could actually invent
language that deliberately causes an LO to arise. Oooohhh.... I'd like to
do THAT!

Anyone willing to play?


PS My working definition...
*distinction: an invented subtlety or nuance in language, that once
gotten by a listener, provides a new opening for action

Francis Wade Consulting 908-699-9116
39 Sturbridge Drive 1-800-484-7402 x1098
Piscataway, NJ 08854
--Reengineering --Coaching change agents
-- Developing leaders --Transforming corporate culture


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