The human bean is not a vegetable

The human bean is not a vegetable

“We is having an interesting babblement about the taste of the human bean. The human bean is not a vegetable.” – Roald Dahl, The BFG

Who doesn’t know the Big Friendly Giant, or ‘BFG’ in short? The friendly non-bone crunching giant with his weird vocabulary or, in his own terminology, gobblefunk – words with multiple meanings, different words pronounced the same. Language play at its best.

Very probably a chat with a human variant of the BFG would drive us totally nuts. If any event was ‘absolutely splendiferous’ further clarification would be necessary for sure. But would we ask?

Often many things are mentioned but do we really hear what has been said? And do we question what has been said?

How many meetings you’ve been attending which actually were a waste of time? Perhaps because the ‘human beans’ present, used container concepts, complicated sentences, agreed (to what actually?) with the former speaker, didn’t check if things were understood or didn’t challenge any statement. Let alone to mention any elephant in the room.

“What I mean and what I say is two different things,” the BFG announced rather grandly.” – Roald Dahl, The BFG

The BFG thought that meaning wasn’t always important since you can’t be right all the time. For you to judge when meaning does matter and when to start a dialogue about what has been said. Answers start with a question, better answers with a better question. As splendiferously simple as that.

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Gerard van der Molen is the founder and owner of whitematterlab, a consulting company helping organizations to design clear and effective interventions for organizational development & change. Gerard has worked with CEO’s, VP’s, board members and managers in (large) organizations across Europe, the Nordics, CEE and CIS. He has a background in philosophy and educational technology, lives in The Netherlands and can be contacted in Dutch, English and German.

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