I'm a firm believer that language is important. particularly as my role involves bringing about change and exhibiting leadership. L. David Marquet' book 'Leadership is Language' emphasises this heavily.
One of the simplest language tweaks I've adopted in the past year is to avoid referring to 'The Business'.
I'm sure we've all heard phrases like this before;
- We just need 'The Business' to approve this
- Let's get a meeting with 'The Business' to work this through
- Who from 'The Business' should be involved?
'The Business' in this context always refers to someone external to the team delivering the product, often they are stakeholder(s) that product ownership or management will liaise with
When we use such language, we turn those people who we ideally want to be as close to product / service delivery as possible, into a separate entity, a faceless 'machine'. Siloed ways of working are reinforced.
The agile manifesto itself refers to 'Business people & developers working together daily'. Yet often this isn't the case. Business people (emphasis on people), are closer to being external bodies than embedded into teams.
Instead, I use 'Our business'
This slight variation promotes the following;
- Unity. We are in this together, it's not a siloed us vs them
- Collective ownership - We're co-creating something together, not as separate cogs in the corporate machine
Why not give 'Our business' a trial. Worth an experiment surely?
What are your thoughts folks?
How do you bring business people and those creating the product together? What language do you use?