Innovation language is something that is desirable but not essential, although to get the best out of our new organisational forms it does need to be given a high priority.
Organisations that Innovate in the manner described in recent blog posts will bring together employees from many different disciplines and from many different areas of the world. The globalisation of Innovation will lead to issues around language. See Soup, Jugaad and Chai, Organic Innovation, The Best Way Forward, and Soft Infrastructure Post Coronavirus for examples of new Innovation forms.
There will obviously be issues with employees of different nationalities, but this is easy to overcome. We simply specify a dominant language such as English or Spanish.
Other problems arise because of terminology, not the language itself. Common terms such as ‘strategy’ or ‘plan’ may mean different things depending on whether your background is in Marketing or IT. Then there is the issue of context or even cultural context.
Even so, we are still lacking something. What about the verbs that we use to describe the things that we do? Terms such as building, planning, creating, or incubating can all have very different meanings. The trick is not to have a huge weighty dictionary but to ensure that everyone understands the language used within a particular Innovation environment.
When we communicate with people there are usually two parts to any communication, the message (the spoken or written text) and the meaning (the context and the unspoken/written clues that help us understand). This context may also be different depending on which organisation an individual works for and is linked with cultural norms within the organisation.
Finally, there are technical terms and new words or phrases that come into being through necessity.
All of these must be available as a common language and vocabulary for employees to understand and use in their daily work. This does not mean that people should use this (and only this) language but rather that this provides for common sharing and understanding and perhaps further development of the organisational language.
The creation and sharing of a common language can be achieved in many ways. Trial and error is simple and is used to great effect by babies. Adults may use different media such as images, music or video. Language also evolves over time, becoming more focused and efficient.
If you want to know more about the creation and use of your own Innovation language then please do get in touch.