Explain It to Me Like We are Friends from High School
Last week I participated in The Great American Teach-In, an event where parents spend 20-30 minutes in their kids’ classrooms explaining their profession to students. I learned quickly that firefighters have the most interesting job and consultants far less. At least, that’s how my six-year-old daughter saw it.
The experience of presenting a complicated topic to an audience of kids taught me an important lesson. If you want someone to understand you, let alone take action from what you say, you may have to simplify your message. This is a struggle for many leaders because your success is a result of your innate ability to understand the complexity of your business. The best executives, however, put the in the rigor to simplify and effectively communicate that complexity. This isn’t about being simplistic or trite. Rather, it’s reducing an idea, a perspective or a viewpoint to its essence. If you want your team to execute more effectively, take a hard look at yourself as a possible cause of confusion.
When I hear that a company or business unit is struggling to execute on a growth strategy, I’ll ask a leader to share their strategy with me-without PowerPoint or spreadsheets. I’ve found that we make the most progress when I ask them to “explain it to me like we are friends from high school.” It’s then that jargon and confusing language are dropped, along with, I suspect, the pressure to make something sound more “high level” than it needs to be. It takes considerable focus and effort to simplify how you deliver your message without losing the meaning (much more than you think.) When you create precise, unequivocal, and shared understanding with your team (or “alignment” as its often labeled), your strategy can be fully embraced and implemented.
A Slice of Life Balance
Many of us will participate in the annual ritual of exchanging cards with friends and family around the holidays. It’s a fine tradition enjoyed by many.
You are receiving this newsletter – Edinger’s Monthly Insights, since you are part of my network of clients and colleagues. It is jammed with resources, tips, and ideas on leadership, strategy, sales effectiveness, and a variety of other business issues. This newsletter is focused on providing information and value, and is never commercial in nature. If you do not wish to receive it, just let us know by replying to this email with the subject REMOVE or click on the unsubscribe option at the bottom of the newsletter.