I read some status messages on gtalk and other places – ‘lost in translation’.
It is good that people get caught only in translation; there are chances when someone can be lost in words. Take an example – when I write business to Buddha, meaning is not limited to ‘business to Buddha’. Here Buddha relates to humanity, to the messages of the masters (prophets) and how message of the masters are applicable to businesses e.g. Islamic banking. In a more subtle sense what these prophets taught and which is applicable, in general, in businesses too.
The problem with us today is not translation only; the problem is getting hold of words incorrectly and staying with them. When the words could mean much more than the only dictionary meaning they convey, that’s where we find problems in understanding poetries. I have heard that someone was reading out a poem written by a Noble laureate to an aristocrat. Suddenly, the aristocrat stopped the reader and said either the line you read just now is incorrect or there is some mismatch. The reader re-read the line with some change of words (resulting in grammatically incorrect sentence) and hearing to the incorrect line the aristocrat said it sounds good with the poem. Later, the reader informed the aristocrat, sir “I suggested the correction in that line! Poet was not willing to accept the correction but when I told him the GRAMATICAL mistake he accepted my argument”. Here the big question to ask is – whether the message is important or the words, meaning and beauty or the grammar is more important? [Here again it seems a fight between system and utility of system relating to my earlier blog on line of understanding]
During his life time, the Buddha never accepted his bhikkus to translate his messages to any other language. Why? May be for the reason that ‘soul of the message would be lost’. After his enlightenment he did not utter a word for few days. Why? Because ‘words create a boundary to any expression or feeling’. I have seen mails floating on why for many feelings we not only stop speaking but also close our eyes for? Because words fail to explain some deeper feelings of life. However, in business that cannot be accepted, you have to speak and you have to express. Therefore, marketing heavily resort on visual advertisements. I was reading an article of Harvard Business Review. The strategy initiatives fail not because of improper strategy formulation. The initiatives fail because there could be one of the reasons: miscommunication and therefore problem in implementation. So, how are you going to tackle this challenge of translation?
I understand it this way – make life simple. Keep your messages simple. Say what you do, do what you believe in and believe in what you are. In my opinion, organizations too have an identity and this identity is formed by behavior of management and the employee. Understanding and sticking to this identity would make life simpler for organization, employee and internal and external interactions amongst all stakeholders. This would help reduce the bewilderment of translating strategy in to actions. This does not require anyone to be being “grammatically correct” always.