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Chapter 11. Stage six: Continue > Gravity - Pg. 140

Stage six: Continue 140 This power of language to influence how people behave should never be underestimated. We often think that language is simply a way of describing something to another person. However, commu- nication is a magical process that takes the ideas and schematic models from one person's mind and creates them in someone else's. By the use of words, patterns, inflections and sounds an individual builds something new and original in someone else's mind when they speak. So as an idea is socialized through an organization, it is not the case that it is being passed from one person to another like a relay race. At each juncture, the idea is reborn and re-created in another person's mind. Each time this creation takes place, it will be subject to amplification, distortion and attenua- tion. Like the game of Chinese whispers, the language element of the socialization process can have a significant impact on the way in which knowledge is received and changed behaviours are eventually delivered. The embodiment of new language into the culture of an organization is seen and heard in many different ways. The use of shared metaphors can help to explain a particular idea in terms of another experience. The metaphor is used in two ways: first an implied analogy, where comparison is drawn between two similar things (say, Ford and General Motors); alternatively, it is in the nature of a figurative analogy that draws a comparison between two seemingly different things (musician and manager). You can often use these when trying to explain a complex subject. The test is when you hear the same metaphor being passed on to other people. Alternatively, jargon and catch phrases help to frame the idea in a set of words or context that help the recipient feel comfortable. Finally, think about "spin". Spin is a process whereby you can take an idea and deliberately offer it in a positive or negative light. This is used sometimes (over zealously) by politicians as they try to angle a story so that it looks favourable to their party. It can also be seen in programmes where people talk about the role they took in the transition programme - often escalating their importance when the change has been successful. The ability to lock in change through the modification of a company's language base can offer im- mense value. In changing how people talk you are effectively modifying the corporate DNA. So in effecting a change in the client or consumer language, you will be seen to modify the organizational genes that describe how the business operates. In summary, as changes become embedded in language, so will the associated behavioural trans- formation. This changed behaviour becomes the norm and is accepted as part of how things are naturally managed. The net result is that continuance is locked in through the shared language and mental models, rather than having to create any overt control system to check that people are changing their behaviour. Back pocket question Have I been able to modify the client and consumer language as part of the transformation process? Gravity In ensuring the continuance of the change, it is important to focus on the intent driving the transition. For example, in writing this book, there was a clear intent to produce something new and original about the field of consulting and change management. In theory, fulfilling the intent is quite easy - just sit down and write a chapter every month and out pops the finished book. However, nothing is quite so simple. Along the way different things occur that both slow the process down and cause energy to be diverted from writing the book. The children's homework, family problems, boredom and so on all conspire to drag the author away from the original plan. In the same way, your client might have an overt goal to implement a new programme but along the way things occur that cause a deviation. The greatest cause of "intent" corruption can be the or- ganization itself. In many cases, the weight of the structure and bureaucracy built around a change process can take energy away from the transformation.