Your language is your World

Sometimes organisations, particularly organisations that have a heavily technical component, develop their own internal language. It is a great way to build identity and even culture, and it is important that new members of the organisation get instructed on said specific language.

Nonetheless, there are two risks.

The first one has to do with belonging. As the company grows, more and more people will feel as outsiders, as they did not contribute to the vocabulary and the phrase book that is being used day after day.

The second one has to do with opportunity. The more specific and internally focused the language is, the more difficult it becomes to communicate with the external world. And people out there might feel that what the organisation is offering is not for them (even when it might actually be), that the opportunity cost to learn this new language is simply too high.

To mitigate the risks, a possibility is to take an outsider approach.

What is the impact the organisation wants to have in the community?
What are the shared values it stands for?
What are the things it seeks to improve?
Why should people (and employees) care?

And then, have reality checks around these topics with people that do not belong, but that should care (somebody would call them stakeholders). Do they get it? Do they actually care? If not, why?

The more the time passes, the more difficult it gets to do just this, so better start early in your journey.

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