babble (ˈbæb ə l) (v)
1. to utter (words, sounds, etc) in an incoherent or indistinct jumble
2. ( intr ) to talk foolishly, incessantly, or irrelevantly
3. ( tr ) to disclose (secrets, confidences, etc) carelessly or impulsively
4. ( intr ) (of streams, birds, etc) to make a low murmuring or bubbling sound
5. incoherent or foolish speech; chatter
6. a murmuring or bubbling sound
[C13: compare Dutch babbelen , Swedish babbla , French babiller to prattle, Latin babulus fool; probably all of imitative origin]
babblement (n), babbling (n, adj)
It seems these days that every man and his dog has a recipe for “the single greatest advantage any company can achieve”. I can imagine how all these competing (and dissenting) voices must sound like pure babblement to folks of a more practical, let’s-just-get-on-with-it bent. Like many developers, for example. Or middle-managers.
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”
~ Arie de Geus
”The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competitors, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
~ Bill Gates
“Our organization just has to outfox our larger competitors by really emphasizing our value proposition…”
~ Charles Schwab
“An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
~ Jack Welch
“A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its schools teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.”
~ Albert Einstein
“The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.”
~ Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage
So, even a few quotes pulled at random from the intarwebs shows the diversity of opinion on the subject. Speed. Creativity. Ability to learn. Value proposition. Management of information. Customer satisfaction. Organisational health. Oh, and collective organisational mindset (that’s from me, btw).
Well, they can’t all be right. Can they? And why should we care? It’s just babble.
Part 2: The Implications
So, why should we care?
For a start, even if you don’t care, then there are probably other folks in your organisation that will. And the more you have no viewpoint, no opinion, the more likely others’ opinions will hold sway. Which means your day-to-day work will be governed and directed by their rationale (whether rational, or not). How do you feel about that? Can you happily buy into someone else’s purpose and direction? With no input or influence? And remain engaged and motivated? Let alone satisfied with your job?
Or maybe you’re already resigned to disaffection and alienation? Many are, it seems. Good luck with that.
And if you do retain some lingering hope that your organisation might change for the better, might begin to involve people (like you) more in things like purpose and direction, then are you ready to step up when the call comes? Would having an opinion on such matters put you in a better place to meet that challenge, and join in the party?
Or conversely, you could accept the status quo, accept your marginalisation at the hands of the autocrats, and remain a serf. After all, it pays the rent, I guess. And there are many folks who expect nothing more from a job. I have to say I find it all terribly sad. But entirely understandable. And this is beginning to sound like babble, too.
“If anyone wants to make a difference, they can.”