To innovate, mind your language

We regularly hear that making connections is a key to innovative thinking. But, the language you use will leave you open to connecting with others - or not.

It’s no coincidence that breakthrough ideas come out in the pub. It’s less about the alcohol and more about the relaxed collaboration that takes place using everyday language.

In organisations today, there seems to be an increasing reliance on acronyms and practitioner terms. Nobody questions this norm yet people sit through meeting after meeting without really saying anything at all. 

As you move up the ladder there's an expectation that the language used be more generic and club-like. At every step humanity and emotion are coated with a thin layer of veneer until executive speak is so plastic that it's meaningless. Thankfully, there are role models like Richard Branson and Pepsi's Indra Nooyi to illustrate how straight-talk can lead to success. 

An innovative society will no longer reward sanitised speak. Aspiring leaders should find role models that have retained their authenticity and communicate in ways that reflect it.

Innovation stems from ideas. And ideas come from real discussion.  The richest ones surface when people with different views cross-pollinate their thinking - not when like minded people validate each other. The more people speak in insider language  to impress their inner circle, the more likely they are to alienate those outside of it.

You often hear practitioners defend their glossary by declaring ‘We need to develop a common language’. But, common to who? Using the common language of plain english (or local native tongue) is the best way to connect with those both inside and outside of your circle. Using inclusive language will bring greater collaborative possibilities.

So, drop the buzzwords and lingo. You may just find yourself in a discussion that inspires your next great idea...