Words can carry powerful meaning. But their meaning will change. It’s inevitable.

Before the 19th century, the word “awful” meant something awe-inspiring or full of awe. Now, it just means terrible. What’s the guarantee that something said as part of a mission, strategy, goal, or project will carry the same meaning over time?

It’s impossible to prevent people from changing the meaning of things. It’s not a bad thing. That’s how things change for the better. Trying to delay the inevitable by repeating their original meaning over and over can lead to frustration and a chokehold on creativity.

Communicating the mission or strategy is essential. Not letting it evolve or change is a risk. It’s the equivalent of hanging out with someone who repeatedly corrects people about the term “awful” with the 19th-century version. That’s awful.

A way to avoid that trap is not just to repeat things but to engage with people and ask what they think it means today. The new take on a mission or strategy can be completely different – and positive.

So much innovative work is born out of ambiguity and an active dialogue about what things mean in light of new perspectives. It's where great work happens.