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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Text viruses

This is an introduction to text viruses - the human made infection that leads to mismanagement.

Who

The concept of text viruses was created by me during the consulting works in the mid of 1990th and its first public representation was started in 2000 – a few articles in Russian printed scientific journals and on the web.

What

Text viruses are the meanings of wording of action, which lead people to different understanding of action and to its different implementations.

From what

A source of differences in understanding of actions is the meanings (more than one) that many words of our language have.

Wording of action is not yet precisely defined and is being elaborated.

When we think, read, write, speak, move, even sleep, etc. - we act. But why all this is represented in sentences when we use language, not in wording of actions?

This misbalance between natural actions and their representations in human language hides our possible knowledge of what our messages, texts, commands, instructions, requests, etc. can do, what networks is being constructed when we pass all this to other people.

Answering these questions: who(?); what(?); from what(?); why(?); how(?); where(?); when(?); by what(?); and how much(?) is the first step to represent and consider wording of action and to know the variants of possible actions. Name it discovering and constructing the future.

Why

Any goods and services have two parts – information part (descriptions, manuals, advertisements, etc.) and physical part (goods and services themselves). Information part is the very "thing" in which people come into contact with first of all. After that people decide to buy or not, to use or not, etc.

Your goods and services can be perfect, but if their information part is not understood as you need (has variants of understanding) people may go to your competitors. It means that so-called networks are not only about who connect whom as a static picture. Any human message (information part of something) in any time creates the set of human connections according to the meanings of the message (networks or managerial structures) and who knows which of them is active in this time.

How

I can suggest you two ways to eliminate text virus impact.

One is to find problematic content that causes an improper curve of your competitiveness (the money results of your organization do not grow, but its outflow grows) and normalize it by usual means (many specialists and consultants can assist you). There is no need to restructure every document you use in wordings of actions.

If this does not help, you should restructure the problematic content you found in wording of actions to see the variants of understanding and reduce their quantity. It is another and direct way.

By what

A need of common understanding may require maintaining a public vocabulary for your organization in order to avoid misunderstanding and unexpected actions. George Orwell wrote in his novel "1984": "Who controls the vocabulary, controls the knowledge".

There is no need to fear ONE understanding. It is only a prerequisite for free people to decide whether to use it or not. It is about managing knowledge, if you agree that knowledge equals understanding. And since you can see in wording of actions the variants and some of them are not yet used – you can innovate by experimenting with new understandings of actions. Let’s call it "text experiment" that can be not expensive.

Where

Modern organizations become more globally dispersed and if you use social software, vocabularies and specify content by maintaining dialogues, you can prevent text virus impact everywhere

When

and every time.

How much

If some estimation of 66% information losses during written communication is correct, you probably waste 66% of investments in documenting the activity (manuals, advertisements, law, etc.) and probably get 34% of result when you influence others with the use of texts. Yes, it is the average values and can be different in the particular situation.

Think about non statistical data – only two variants of understanding of wording of action result in:

- 50% risk of misunderstanding;
- as minimum two networks or managerial structures (one - according to the first meaning and the second one - according to the second meaning) and one of them can be hidden;
- effect as if people demonstrate a lack of skills, but in fact they may have different understanding.

***

Culture is not mystic. Every human action is being done within vocabulary. Invisible human made language structures - text viruses can be visible and their impact can be limited because only we humans are responsible for our language and actions.

An old link: Openly Cross-Examining what a text virus is, and why it can cause costly knowledge damage.

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