Every possible idea already exists in the air around us. We just need to match those ideas to symbols. The more symbols we know of and can understand, the more words we can invent. The more words we recognize, the more ideas we can manifest.

About a year ago, through a dear friend and mentor, I was introduced to Ludwig Wittgenstein. His work on the philosophy of language (more accurately philosophy being a bi-product of misunderstanding language) widened my perspective.

What I learned was we recognize words through pattern-recognition. It’s a simple concept I never took the time to realize. We understand the meaning of words by what they mean to us, not by what they mean to the person saying the words. For example a simple request like “Please buy an apple from the store” can be understood by anyone with a basic grasp of the English language – there is complete alignment. However a request like, “Please pick up some of that fruit I had the other night by the waterfront,” would only be understood by the person saying those words – there is no alignment.

Whiteboard-9552This is a very basic example, so lets take a real life example. A few days ago I was talking with a fellow Leanist about the differences between “Lean” and “Six Sigma.” I stated my position as Lean being anti-fragile, whereas Six Sigma was very rigid. My colleague thought “Robust” was a better word for Lean, which I had to disagree with (because I lump robust and rigid in the same category). On the more important level we both agreed with each other’s analysis of the two organizational methodologies but we disagreed on a definition of a word (trivial). What was great about this conversation is we both understood it was a language issue and quickly continued with our productive dialogue. The Ahmad from a year or two ago may have inadvertently picked a fight about the difference in the word “robust” and “anti-fragile”.

I want to be surrounded with people whom I can have conversations like this with, like my colleague I mentioned. It makes the creative process a lot more fun, exploratory, and fluid.



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