You can tell you’re having an impact on an organization when your words bounce back at you.
Now, they don’t have to be your original words. They can be concepts you’ve borrowed from other people.
Yet, you’ll know you are having an impact when you hear those words you’ve uttered spreading out through an organization.
The words are auditory markers that change is occurring, and I think they are more powerful markers of change than physical changes.
Because changes in language signify changes in thinking. Changes in thinking usually lead to changes in behavior. Changes in behavior lead to changes in outcomes, and we all benefit (ideally).
Now, beware the false markers of a language parroted. You’ve all probably been in a meeting where you felt like you should have a “Buzzword Bingo” card in your lap so at least you could win a prize for having to listen to that…stuff. That’s not the type of language change I’m talking about.
I’m talking about (okay, listening for) changes in the way people describe why they are behaving differently, how they are behaving differently, and what they are doing differently. Buzz words lack the presence–the action–of these real words. Example: “creating synergy,” versus “conducting safe-to-fail experiments.”
Listen closely today to your organization. Is anyone saying new words? If they aren’t, then you probably haven’t changed much.