Adam naming the animals, Christ Church Cathedral, High Street, Dublin (by Andreas F. Borchert, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Start with the Naming of Things

E. Forrest Christian RequisiteAgility 1 Comment

As I start things back up in support of the Requisite Agility movement, it’s a good idea to begin with the basics: name things clearly.

The naming of things is important. In the Jewish Bible, it’s the first thing God has the first man do:

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field… — Genesis 2 (King James Version)

The beasts and fowl certainly didn’t need names to do what they do. The names are for us, because naming is how we can discuss something and have the same idea.

Most of the time we can assume that the person we are talking to has the same idea that we do because they share a similar culture and background. In my hometown, I can assume that I won’t be shown to the bait pail full of worms and nightcrawlers. In other places, though, the definition would be different and such things are included. Neither side is weird in its own world. They are simply strange to each other.

You want to be as specific as you can but not moreso. Some things cannot specified exactly. They require imagic conversation.

But we’re just talking about work, which should be able to specify fairly well. We should be able to say that we talking about this set and not that set. There will always be edge cases, and those will always put the rule to the trial, but you would think we would be able to get the language down.

We all have different backgrounds, and we don’t all share the same culture, much less subculture. For the next week or so, let’s take the time to talk about what I mean when I say certain terms. It may not be what you mean. And that’s OK: we can start a useful dialogue about the difference.

Image credit: Christ Church Cathedral, High Street, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland: Detail of stained glass window in the west wall of the first bay of the north aisle, depicting Adam naming the animals. Cartooned by John Hardman Powell (1827–1895), executed by Hardman & Co. Image by Andreas F. Borchert (CC BY-SA 4.0).

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps individuals and companies find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants, both as individuals and as leaders of organizations at least as diverse. [contact]

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