At first glance, I couldn’t wait to blog about this report on Managing Clarity in Corporate Communication. Any report called “Complex to Clear” with 68 pages and 20-some figures and tables was just asking for an Irony of the Year Award.
But then I read the first few pages. And I realized that in spite of the word “obfuscating” on page 7, there’s some really good info in here about Corporate Blah Blah and how to prevent it.
So, for all who wish they had more time to read, allow me to review this report for you…and share just the best parts, one blog at a time.
Best Part #1: Clarity Killers
Authors Martin Eppler and Nicole Bischof summarized all the “bad communication practices that reduce clarity.” Who knew there were so many?!
On my own, I could think of only a few:
- Using vague, businessy sounding words (e.g., “actionable,” “gain traction,” “bandwidth”) that most people only pretend they understand
- Using industry jargon (for an audience of “outsiders”)
- Being wordy
But here are more Clarity Killers, courtesy of Eppler and Bischof:
- “Communicating strategy in the same format through which it was developed”— So true! Your balanced scorecard or strategy map or placemat or whatever-you-call-it is probably not as good as an anecdote or metaphor or infographic when it comes to educating the masses about company strategy.
- “Keeping your corporate values and aspirations as abstract and generic as possible”— Yes! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen mission statements like “Providing the best products and services to satisfy our customers and position us as the top company in our market.” Now that’ll set you apart. That’s almost as good as “We want to be successful.”
For the whole list of Clarity Killers, see page 12 in the report.
Best Part #2: Why we make communications so complex