Labels into lexicon

“Labeling” as a word seems to have a bad connotation, implying insufficient forethought, or even an intention to oversimplify or foster identity-based thinking. But labeling is just naming, and critical to having any substantive discussion of a topic. Maybe we could think more in terms of “lexicon” than “labels.”

Eric Willeke recently did an image post about labels in the Lean-Agile space, and asks the provocative question, “Are we focused on finding more good ideas instead of labeling the good ideas we have?” I think he’s exposing an tough question of whether our label-ridden discussions are constructive.

It’s a compelling topic now as we loudly debate the merits of various lean and agile development methodologies and work flow models. But for the discussion to be productive, we need a good common lexicon of relatively unambiguous terminology. ¬†We start with simple labels and hope that they evolve into a rich vocabulary for sharing and evolving ideas. But it’s a non-trivial problem and we have lots of misunderstanding.

So we have to use the terminology. Whether it’s lexicon or label has most to do with whether it’s head or heart that’s talking.

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