And actually it's a bigger issue than this - my guess is that the whole new S curve isn’t so rooted in financial and quantitative disciplines and language as the old one.
Gary Hamel provides this slide as an example. His bet is that one reason engagement in so many businesses is so low is down to the style of language that we use. Not that there is anything specifically wrong with words like differentiation and excellence (and I know I use them all the time), it's just that they're fundamentally not that compelling. So how about we change some of the words on the left for some of those on the right - the sort of language that has spurred humanity to great deeds over the centuries. Wouldn't that provide a positive impact on engagement finally.
I also like the way that David Whyte describes it:
"The inherited language in the work world is far too small for the kind of mythic drama that occurs there everyday, and we need a language that commensurates with the drama of work. I do think that most companies are like Shakespeare plays written large with dramatic entrances and exits, midnight assassinations, noble speeches while the grave diggers are telling it as it is, and every epoque ends with a lot of blood on the floor."
It’s not that all organisations need to start talking about love, though personally I think that would be fantastic, it’s just that we think about our language and adjust it in our attempt to make our organisations a bit more people shaped.
I think there’s a particular issue for HR in that we tend to dress things up to make them more like the rest of the business, eg ‘it’s not an HR initiative, it’s a business programme’, or ‘we need to get a business sponsor for this HR project’.
Do we really want to make our case for the future of people management using the type of language that’s in use today, and perpetuate the old S curve, or do we focus on educating the rest of the business using this new, qualitative, people focused language, to help them move onto the next one?