7th September 2003
12 Complementary Languages for Sustainable Governance
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This is the development of a theme articulated in a earlier paper:
Languages Required for Global Governance (1998)
The above diagram interrelates 12 complementary "languages" that
may prove to be essential for sustainable governance. The languages are named
using caricatural abbreviations -- partly for mnemonic purposes. The selection
of "languages", and the names given to them, are extremely tentative.
The purpose is to evoke discussion of the different conceptual modes in which
governance of any kind might be discussed. The diagram benefitted from insights
of Nadia McLaren.
As described in the earlier paper (Four
Complementary Languages Required for Global Governance, 1998),
the rationale for this kind of approach to strategic and management thinking
has been notably developed bt Edward de Bono (Six Thinking Hats, 1987); Six
Action Shoes, 1991; and The Six Value Medals, 2005).
Focus of languages
The 12 languages -- grouped in pairs, positioned across the circle above --
may therefore be tentatively understood as follows:
- Pair A: Positive vs Negative
- Pozzy: This is the language in which everything is expressed
positively with a focus on Solutions. Great for political
correctness. This is the language of hope-mongers -- unfortunately also
the direct cause of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster (the manufacturers,
as in many modern organizations, discouraged upward reporting of problems).
- Neggy: The is the negative, critical language characteristic
of newspaper reporting and general cynicism, typically focused on Problems.
The language of doom-mongers. Useful to have around if you want to fix
infrastructure problems (pipe-leaks, broken-legs, etc) where a good diagnosis
is essential to rapid remedial action. Does not seem to be able to deal
with wider global challenges.
- Pair B: Love vs Toughness
- Luvvy: This is the language in which everything is based on love
and being lovely. Implicit and unquestioning belief in brotherhood, sisterhood,
solidarity, community and the like. Great as a basis for initiating relationships.
Any lapse is seen as a call for Education. Tends to be at
an extreme loss in recognizing or dealing with nasty situations (Saddam
Hussein's, etc). Poor at sustaining relationships through their bad patches.
- Tuffy: This is the tough language of the corporate, military
and gang worlds -- the bulldozer language of "empire" and getting
things done. Typically this calls for a degree of Training
in "enforcement". Certainly achieves things, including the need
for other styles to compensate for its insensitivities.
- Pair C: Vision-speak vs Tech-speak
- Vizzy: This is the language of envisioning the future, of "vision"--
which is central to the coherent articulation of collective strategy and
as the outcome of personal "vision quests". The call is typically
for appropriate "Dreaming" possibly as articulmated
through collective brainstorming procedures. Tends necessarily to be constrained
buy visual metaphors, thus failing to integrate equivalents of foresight
based on other senses (sound, touch, taste, and smell) that may may greater
importance to some cultures or segments of the population (eg role of
music for youth).
- Tekky: With all its joy in gadgets, technical fixes and scientific
explanations, and yet more monitoring. The green's have there own variants
concerned with recipes for permaculture, composting toilets, eco-housing,
and the like. Tends to assume, as with architecture, that right human
relations follow from right technical solutions to environmental problems.
Typically focuses on the need for Planning -- a step-by-step
approach. The result has tended to be soulless environments.
- Pair D: Art-speak vs Business-speak
- Artty: This is the language of art, decor, music and crafts.
A major emphasis is on Design. Can be great for look-good
/ smell-good / vibe-good environments that are nice to hang out in. However
this language is notorious for its inability to handle conflicting tastes
and for the maneuverings to impose particular tastes and marginalize others.
Fickle in its blind response to fashion and other rules of taste.
- Bizzy: This is the language of business and commerce subject
to economic and resource criteria -- and the profit-making bottom line.
The creativity of successful entrepreneurship and an exciting deal tends
to be based on a guiding "Concept", notably when
dealing with the intangible constraints of the world of art (as with media
events and design studios).
- Pair E: Wisdom vs Pragmatism
- Wizzy: This is the language of wisdom and gurus -- emulated to
a high degree by consultants and therapists. Also used as a vehicle for
personal aspiration, prayer and relating to the cosmos ("Goddy").
Great for wise sayings and recommendations -- things one ought to do.
May be associated with mysterious transformative moments that can be experienced
as "Magic". Best appreciated, in its subtlest
forms in relation to the pragmatic realities of the world, through the
classic Zen phrase: "Before Enlightenment, Chop Wood, Draw Water;
After Enlightenment, Chop Wood, Draw Water". Amazingly inept
when several speakers of it get together to articulate action in
response to a concrete situation or an opposing perspective -- hence the
limitations of the "Councils of the Wise" used by some governments.
- Praggy: This is the language of pragmatism and realpolitik
("Reelly"). It is the language that handles, and is responsible
for engendering, fragmentation of collective effort ("Fraggy"),
incoherent action ("Skatty"), and the divisiveness of the world.
Its creative focus is on Innovation. Focused on the here
and now. Tends to be insensitive to consequences elsewhere and elsewhen.
- Pair F: Fuzziness vs Legalese
- Fuzzy: This is the language of the conceptual approach to incommensurables,
whether in the form of creative tolerance of ambiguity, fuzzy logic, or
the complexity sciences and chaos theory. Hence the generative reframing
of rigid rules through Complex-systems thinking. Unsuited
to any need for a clear answer.
- Leggy: This is the language of law and legislation. Basic to
any bureaucracy governed by rules and regulations -- hence the focus on
Procedures in response to fuzziness. Typical of the language
of how-to manuals. Most efforts at global organization are formulated
in this language -- as well as the articulation of human rights and responsibilities.
Easily takes over mentalities as an end in itself. Quite insensitive to
its own limitations and absurdities -- and the pain it can cause
in dealing with unforeseen exceptions.
Four-fold systems have long been a feature of psychometric testing of individuals
-- based on the work of Jung, Myers-Briggs and Hermann. Most recently attention
has been given by the Cognosis Consulting Group to a "Four Worlds"
framework extending such approaches, and applying them to the "personality"
of organizations (see Alex Benady. Organisations, too, can be put on the
couch. Financial Times, 20 June 2003). This recognizes the critical
importance of the "culture" of an organization -- none of which is
considered better than another, although possibly one may be better suited to
a particular style of challenges.
Mediating role of languages
Whereas each of the paired languages above is essentially in opposition with
the other -- to the point of being incommensurable -- this relationship is mediated
by a second pair. The second pair is orthogonal to the first in the diagram.
- Cluster A: "Leadership" dynamic?
- Pair A: Positive vs Negative (Pozzy vs Neggy) is mediated by Pair
E: Wisdom vs Pragmatism (Wizzy vs Praggy). It takes the language of
Wizzy to transcend the dualism and polarization of Pair A. Failing
that, the incommensurables may be treated pragmatically through the skills
- Similarly Pair E: Wisdom vs Pragmatism (Wizzy vs Praggy) is mediated
by Pair A: Positive vs Negative (Pozzy vs Neggy). It takes the selective
("glass half full") insight of Pozzy to see the opportunities
of situations in which wisdom and pragmatism are interacting in an unfruitful
manner. Failing that, the incommensurables may be critically, if not cynically,
handled with the skills of Neggy ("glass half empty").
- Cluster B: "Social contractual" dynamic?
- Pair B: Love vs Toughness (Luvvy vs Tuffy) is mediated by Pair
F: Fuzziness vs Legalese (Fuzzy vs Leggy). It takes the language of
Leggy to articulate a stable framework to balance the pulls of "Love"
against those of "Toughness". Failing that the complexities of
the situation can be handled through the tolerant skills of Fuzzy.
- Similarly Pair F: Fuzziness vs Legalese (Fuzzy vs Leggy) is mediated
by Pair B: Love vs Toughness (Luvvy vs Tuffy). The proactive empathy
of Luvvy may be used to encompass and supercede the dissonance between
Legalism and Fuzziness. Failing that the situation may be "resolved"
using the forcefulness of Tuffy -- possibly using "tough love".
- Cluster C: "Innovation" dynamic?
- Pair C: Vision-speak vs Tech-speak (Vizzy vs Tekky) is mediated
by Pair D: Art-speak vs Business-speak (Artty vs Bizzy). The contrasting
pulls of technique vs vision can be resolved through the insights of Artty.
But failing that, the economic criteria of Bizzy can be used to force resolution
of any disagreement.
- Similarly Pair D: Art-speak vs Business-speak (Artty vs Bizzy)
is mediated by Pair C: Vision-speak vs Tech-speak (Vizzy vs Tekky)
. The incommensurable demands of Business vs Art can be clarified in terms
of the integrative insights and foresight of Vizzy. Failing that the feasibility
constraints identified in the language of Tekky may be used -- the art of
The previous section stresses the mediating relationships to various incommensurable
("bilingual") language pairs. The 12 languages may be grouped differently
-- into four sets of three languages -- to avoid such challenging dynamics.
Each such multi-lingual group (eg Wizzy-Leggy-Bizzy) is indicative of a particular
style of action open to those who can master them as a set.
It may also be useful to explore situations in which the languages of a set
are not equally mastered by someone who nevertheless has some competence
in all three languages in the set. Within each set, three possibilities
are therefore indicated below by changing the order to suggest that the first
is a dominant or favoured language and the last is one in which competence
is diminished (perhaps seriously so). The term by which the set as a whole is
tentatively named may then be understood generically. The attribution of exemplars
is also very tentative.
- "Entrepreneur": Wizzy-Leggy-Bizzy: This is the language
set of the creative statesman-cum-businessman -- the archetypal CEO:
- Wizzy-Leggy-Bizzy: Leader of a religion (eg Pope, Dalai Lama, etc)?
- Leggy-Bizzy-Wizzy: Chief justice. Leader of a country?
- Bizzy-Wizzy-Leggy: Finanical genius (eg George Soros, Anita Roddick)?
- "Explorer-discoverer": Luvvy-Tekky-Neggy: This is the language
set of the archetypal explorer or scientist enthralled by the pursuiit of
knowledge for its own sake, attracted to challenges and to the excitement
of new technical problems:
- Luvvy-Tekky-Neggy: Development assistance, Intermediate technologist
(eg Marc Nerfin)?
- Tekky-Neggy-Luvvy: Scientist (eg Richard Feynman)?
- Neggy-Luvvy-Tekky: Detective? Investigative journalist?
- "Empire-builder": Pozzy-Tuffy-Vizzy: This is the language
set of the tough-minded visionary intent on making his/her mark on the world
whatever the opposition.
- Pozzy-Tuffy-Vizzy: Alexander the Great?
- Tuffy-Vizzy-Pozzy: Revolutionaries? Fidel Castro? Joseph Stalin?
- Vizzy-Pozzy-Tuffy: Cecil Rhodes? Mother Theresa?
- "Designer": Artty-Praggy-Fuzzy: This is the language set
of the designer responding inventively to complex challenges, whether in the
realm of art, engineering or social change -- often highly motivated by the
search for an elegant solution.
- Artty-Pozzy-Fuzzy: Richard Wagner? Bob Geldorf?
- Pozzy-Fuzzy-Artty: R Buckminster Fuller?
- Fuzzy-Artty-Pozzy: Princess Diana?
- Varieties of experience of past-present-future complexes. 2001 [text]
- Characteristics of phases in 12-phase learning / action cycles. 1998 [text]
- Typology of 12 complementary strategies. 1998 [text]
- Typology of 12 complementary dialogue modes essential to sustainable dialogue.
- Varieties of Dialogue by Number: experimental overview by number of perspectives
represented. 1998 [text]
- Discovering richer patterns of comprehension to reframe polarization. 1998
- Varieties of Dialogue Arenas and Styles. 1997 [text]
- Varieties of decision-making arenas and styles. 1994 [text]
- Pattern of Meeting Participant Roles: shadowy 'roundtable' hidden within
every meeting. 1993 [text]
- Systems of Categories Distinguishing Cultural Biases: with notes on facilitation
in a multicultural environment. 1993 [text]
- Varieties of Dialogue Arenas and Styles. 1992 [text]
- Varieties of Decision-making Arenas and Styles. 1991 [text]
- Patterns of Conceptual Integration. 1984 [text]
- Representation, Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the role of bumber.