Language Matters

Language Matters

“Systems Thinking is a new language and orientation to life”
—Steve Haines

Language matters—that words become commitments and that commitments generate behavior.

In order to transform organizations and to achieve competitive results, we need to tap the oldest deepest roots of human understanding: the way we talk to one another, the words we use, and the commitments we make.
Adapted from: Freedom from Frenzy, Fast Company January 1999


A Language for Learning

Language has a subtle, yet powerful effect on the way we view the world. English, like most other Western languages, is linear—its basic sentence construction, noun-verb-noun translates into a worldview of “A causes B.”

This linearity predisposes us to focus on one-way relationships rather than circular or mutually causative ones, where A influences B, and B in turn influences A.

Unfortunately, many of the most vexing problems confronting managers and organizations are caused by a web of tightly interconnected circular relationships.

To enhance our understanding and communication of such problems, we need a language more naturally suited to the task.

Elements of the Language. Systems thinking can be thought of as a language for communication about complexities and interdependencies.

—5th Discipline Fieldbook