An organization is its language. Large organisations will often create a common language to work more efficiently together, but such a common language can limit the organisation’s future vision. An organisation’s ability to change, evolve and innovate depends on its ability to change its language. Starting from this provocative idea (from Pangaro and Dubberly), this talk explores what could be such a language for transition.
First, I will demonstrate how language is everywhere in our work as designers and information architects, from creating taxonomies and choosing labels, to designing voice UIs and facilitating conversations…
Then we will look more specifically into the importance of language in projects of transition: What role can language play when you try to change and improve a system or organisation? And how can you influence this process of transition by carefully choosing the right language? By looking at examples from the real world, Victor Klemperer’s analysis of the language of the Third Reich (“LTI”), and Trump’s smart use of rhetorical linguistic devices, we learn how language really shapes the way we think, shapes our perspective on society and the world. I will present some linguistic techniques you can apply in your projects of transition, such as metaphors, foregrounding/backgrounding, coming up with neologisms, using noun versus verb phrases… and I will illustrate these with examples taken from projects I have worked on.
To conclude, I will link my linguistic research to the systemic design toolkit we have developed recently. The tools in this toolkit are workshop tools, tools for conversation, and they allow us to zoom out to and design on a system level (versus interactions or service level). This “systemic lens” is indispensable when you want to intervene in a system or organisation, when you want to design for transition.
Key takeaways from the session:
– You will realize even more how important language and conversation are in our daily work as information architects and designers
– You will get a first idea towards a “language for transition” in projects.
– You will learn to recognize linguistic “tricks” that are used everywhere (including in politics) to frame ideas and steer your thoughts and ways of thinking in a certain direction
– You will be introduced to our systemic design methodology, and learn about the importance of zooming out in a projects, using a systemic lens.
About the speakers
Koen Peters is an information architect at Namahn. He is usually working on web and intranet projects for governments, banks, the European Institutions… He is also the internal coach for a number of Namahn designers and organizes information architecture trainings at Namahn. Koen enjoys discovering cities on a bike and is passionate about singing Bach’s Saint-John’s Passion.