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Getting from “we can’t” to “we can”

In  their recent article, Use Language to Shape a Creative Culture, the authors Tom and David Kelley explore how language can shape organizational culture.

In the article, the authors provide anecdotal evidence of how to move from statements like “we can’t do that” and “That will never work” to “how might we.” Three powerful words.

According to the authors:

The “how” suggests that improvement is always possible. The only question remaining is how we will find success. The word “might” temporarily lowers the bar a little. It allows us to consider wild or improbable ideas instead of self-editing from the very beginning, giving us more chance of a breakthrough. And the “we” establishes ownership of the challenge, making it clear that not only will it be a group effort, but it will be our group.

From my perspective, the takeaways are:

  • Seemingly small factors can be important in shaping an organization

  • Our words and our actions are always on display for co-workers, supervisors, vendors, outsiders, and customers. Never thought of organizations as a collection of voyeurs and exhibitionists!

  • I suspect the use of language in organizations is under examined

  • “I can’t” or “we can’t” are some of the worst words we can use.

  • Shift focus from the negative to the positive

In truth, I have never thought much about the importance of the language that is used in an organization, but suspect I will now.

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Favorite Article of the Week

December 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The Favorite Article of the Week (FAW) For the last few days of 2012 and the first 2013 came across my Twitter feed. Although dated, I think it is still highly relevant.  The article is from April 30, 2012 and found at the Wall Street Journal. The article 10 Things Your Commencement Speaker Won’t Tell You can easily have a few more items added to the list:

11. You will have to translate your education into skills. For example, what was learned or experienced in your international diplomacy course that would be useful for a management trainee position? If still you can’t translate your education into skills, you may want to see item #12 on the list.

12. Enroll at your local community college and get a some skills. Skills=good, marketable skills in-demand=great.

13. There is a good chance your first job (or few jobs) out of college will be below your education level and far below your desired pay.  Leverage your opportunities. This is a chance to network, make friends, acquire and practice new skills, build your professional foundation, and develop your “brand.”

14. Be in the moment for all that you do.

15. Learn to say “thank you”…often.

Of course there are many more possibilities to add to such a list.

Favorite Article of the Week

December 24, 2012 Leave a comment

In order to facilitate my writing, I am incorporating a weekly post with my favorite or most interesting article of the week. Articles might be related to:

  • Human Resource Development
  • Performance Improvement
  • Science fiction/futurism
  • Organizational Management
  • Housing

Of course, I might include other topics, but these are the ones I find myself most drawn to online.

So, the first Favorite Article of the Week is:

Quick and Easy Ways to Quiet Your Mind by Mathew May, found in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog section.

Three quick ways are listed to “Quiet Your Mind:”

  1. Quick Meditation
  2. Pulsing
  3. Daydream Walks

Each day I try to use the Daydream Walk to just relax my mind. During my lunch, I put my headphones and walk around the building where I work.

Usually, I don’t focus my mind on anyone area such as work, home, etc. I just allow it to “go where it may.” Sometimes, it is a work problem, other times I think about big questions, and other times it is a storyline for a science fiction novel.

Regardless the walk allows me the chance to tune in, by tuning out.