The Future Of Innovation Will Require A More Open Language

Ms Jennifer Ann Gordon

The future of innovation will require a more honest, sincere and open language, a language with more space around words. This spacious language of innovation will be free of hyperbole, superlatives and blame. It will be the language of being at cause, rather than at effect. And, most importantly, it will be the language of listening.

A new language is fragile, though. We will need to guard our linguistic environment, against the corrosive corporate speak, the speculative Wall Street jargon, and the greed-driven media hype which cripple innovation.

To invoke change, our language needs to be positively oriented, rooted in hope, and judgment free. This is the space between the words. When despondency and anger are present in language, there is no room to breathe new thoughts. The innovator’s language needs to create a place of safety, a big place where people can venture forth into new mental territory without judgment. The crux of this language is the listening between the words... the wide open space of silence where creativity flourishes. People need to feel safe in their own skin before they are willing to take risks. And, in order to feel safe, they need to feel listened to. Meticulous listening is required to speak this new language. Impatience in this area slows progress dramatically.

Dr. Barbara Cavalier is in the business of improving companies’ voices on the frontlines of sales and service. When asked how she goes about this, she replied that she spends most of her time listening. Only then can she address the voice, or power, of the organization. This listening is the space between the words, the silent vocabulary of the innovator.

The language of innovation is the language of being at cause, rather than effect. It is not anti- or deficiency language. For example, the anti-violence against women and girls campaigns. Anti-violence means what? What does a violence-free environment look like in positive terms? Paint me a picture that I can embrace, please. Or Breast Cancer Awareness. What about Healthy Breast Awareness? Can you paint me a word picture which inspires me to celebrate my wholeness and be proactive about my health care, rather than pushing me by creating dread, fear and paranoia?

Deficiency language, the antithesis of the innovator’s language, finds no better lairs than the insurance industry and Wall Street, the vocabulary of which, - such as risk, chance, death, percentage, liability, fault, loss, etc., - revolve around people’s terror of death or loss.

Innovators are alert to their thoughts and words, well-knowing that these define worlds. We can ask ourselves: What is my language magnifying? Does it blame or accuse? Does it label me or others? Does it inspire? Does it invite others into new territory? As we speak from our ‘ears’, curiosity and connection to others, we attract all the nutrients, light and people we need to grow better companies and a better world.

Article © 2009 Ms Jennifer Ann Gordon. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Ms Jennifer Ann Gordon

Ms Jennifer Ann Gordon

affiliation:   Jaga

position:  CEO

country:  United States

area of interest:  Language for Innovation

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