How many of you have been in a situation where people say, our biggest problem here is communication. What does that mean? Does it mean the phones don’t work? Does it mean we don’t speak each other’s language? People in other departments don’t care what people are doing? Senior management does not pass down clear information? People send unclear email messages – we don’t know the goals? We don’t trust each other? That’s because words like ‘communication’ are fuzzy and vague – they mean too many things to too many people.
If the words are fuzzy, the thinking is fuzzy. Here’s another classic example: somebody says the “our problem is that we need a clear business model”. Sounds great, furthermore, “we read it in the Harvard Business Review”. Does it mean: “We don’t have any idea where we’re going strategically – we don’t know what direction to go in.” or “We don’t know where we should put our money and key people, where to invest them”. These last two statements are much more specific and easier to understand than, we need a new business model. The use of simple language with basic sentence structure results in clearly defined statements anyone can easily understand. The trouble we have as adults is that we think using big words and acronyms make us look smarter, when in fact, kids are way more creative for they talk and write simply.
The next time you’re in this situation and the sixth grader just walked in – would they understand what the words say?