The meaning of one word

I recently been reading a swedish book called “Att mena och m├Ąta samma sak” which in english means “To mean and measure the same thing”. This book talks about how a group of people worked on creating an collective architecture for working within the health care of sweden. Or rather, it talks about how they did it and the tools they used to create this architecture.

Chapter four, which was most appealing to me talked about the connection between the referent, the term, the concept and the difference between them.

  • The referent is something that exist in the world. It is nothing more, nothing less that exactly what it is.
  • The term is what you use to describe this referent, for example; if the referent would be a chair then you would use the term “chair” to describe it.
  • The concept is the really interesting part, when you use the term “chair” to describe this chair then every person will have their own conception of what the term “chair” stands for. Your mental image of “chair” is based on your experiences in life thus people with different experiences will have different mental images.

So the term describes the concept your form about the referent described by the term. Confusing? :)

Most of you probably have an idea of what the difference between the term and the concept is, but to fully appreciate the relationship between the referent, the term and the concept can act as a tool for you to phrase and develop your thoughts.

It may be crucial to have this in mind in certain settings such as groups working together within a company or a network. If you’re going to develop strategies and business aspects based on your product or vision then it’s very important that the internal terminology generates similar concepts in the minds involved. Failure to speak the same language here could lead to hours of nonconstructive discussions or even faulty products.

To create a solid terminology with clearly defined concepts is and will be an very important aspect in uniting the world.

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