Are you speaking of your organization in the past, present, or future tense?

August 22, 2011

Past, present or future tenseOn a recent trip to Italy, I visited the Coliseum, the Parthenon, and the statues collected by the Medici family. While there’s plenty of important and successful businesses and entrepreneurs in Italy, most of us, when we speak of Italy’s greatness, speak in the past tense. And Italy spends a great deal of money to promote a history that has long passed.

When you talk about the United States, what tense do you use most? Do you find yourself talking about the founders, the heyday of Xerox, Polariod, and Kodak, or the future of Microsoft, Apple, and Google? Do you talk about how we used to lead the world in education, how we were the strongest capital market, how our dynasty is in disrepair? Do you talk about our country the way you talk about Italy? Think about the tense you use most and why.

What tense do you and others use to talk about your organization? And what does that say about what you’ve done and where you’re headed?

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