Idle thoughts on Organisation

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

I’m fascinated by the way we use language and sometimes don’t notice its impact – how its structure shapes our thinking. A lot of languages including English, are big on nouns. (See my post on The Geography of Thought).

I was thinking today about how we casually use the word organisation like a noun; and we would call, say, British Airways an organisation but we wouldn’t label this scene of fast moving traffic and people in India as “an organisation”.

(Spotted by Chris Corrigan)

All of which is fine of course but it does have consequences. It leads us to treat British Airways (and insert any other brand there) as if it is some solid thing, rather than as an emerging, changing dance of a whole lot of variable things. (Oops, see how I slipped into calling them things… language so easily ensnares us!).

Next, add in our language’s preference for seeing the world as objects to be operated on by subjects. (For instance, reflect on the phrase “It is raining”; what is this “it” that we linguistically imply is doing the raining?) Then you easily end up with a dubious framework for organisational change, tending to take you towards a top-down, deterministic approach…

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