We are prisoners of our language. It defines what we mean yet it confines our ability to change. The way we describe things sets the tone for all subsequent thought about that subject, if we are not careful.
I recall reading how Taiichi Ohno, considered to be the father of the Toyota Production System, had been asked what he called his methodology. He replied that he didn’t want it to be called anything as then it would become a thing and people would study it and sell it as a service. What he was describing has become known as ‘Lean’ and his prophesies have become true. Rather than being a belief system there are now Lean consultants and you can study it and sell your knowledge. This is never what he intended as he was a firm believer in businesses solving their own problems rather than applying someone else’s solution.
I find myself in a similar situation with the work we have been doing with the Leadership Team. We are going to try working as a single unit with joint responsibility for the delivery of the whole of the ICT Services. To do this we need to create a collective awareness, collective trust and focus on delivering against the needs of the service and its customers.
I have been asked isn’t this like ‘matrix management’. In a way it is. Matrix management is an example of similar thinking but I don’t want to go down the route of calling it as such. If we do then we will start to think in terms of someone else’s solution to their problems or, perhaps even worse, a packaged up solution which can be the sold on to many different organisations.
What we are doing is our thing, applying our thinking to the problems that we face. Limiting our thinking by taking another solution off the shelf will stifle the process. I don’t want to get locked up behind the language.