I recall laughing out loud when I was first exposed to FMCG BS Bingo – I leave you to work out what is meant by BS but as a hint you may step in it on a farm. This game was designed for boring business meetings where people would pepper their comments and views with the latest buzz-phrases, e.g. blue sky thinking, unencumbered by the facts, bang for your buck and my personal non-favourite, we must touch base. When each buzz word was heard you crossed it off your list and when all of your words had been used, you were able to claim Bingo! Or, a full house of buzz.
Is it just me or are we seeing more and more gobbledygook and unnecessary words and phrases in daily business? Why is simple English (I am sure it is the same in other languages, yes?) so rare and apparently inappropriate in a business setting? Take a look at this corporate results announcement where I have deliberately disguised the culprit but it is based on an announcement from a global, household name.
“Closure of the second semester highlighted significant buoyancy in top and bottom line progress despite non-forecasted environmental inertia. Developing and emerging locales have experienced a further slow-down in momentum largely due to the latent threats of conflict and disease. This slumber has been exacerbated by the failure of developed markets to provide a previously forecast growth modicum.
"Nevertheless, we continue to stride ahead of our markets vectored by ground-breaking innovations in premium categories. Long term market sustainability investments have taken our top brands into the “sleeping giant” BRIC territories and other potential profit rich, atlas white, spaces.
"Our newly focussed portfolio was modified through growth-themed acquisitions and overdue disposal of laggard businesses. Costs remain under pressure but saving plans are primed to reach fruition in the next period being achieved primarily through a rationalisation of homosapien resources.
"The outlook remains challenging but we are confident of delivering impressive growth while enhancing core operating margin deliverance and a muscular cash flow.”
Take a minute to let that meandering melange of words sink in. Such statements are then usually followed by an announcement of availability in Braille, large print and hard of hearing versions. What about being available in plain English? Ok, there is some poetic licence in that announcement but I am sure you get my point; when you need to say something why not say it simply, clearly and with a minimum of unnecessarily complex words? In that case, maybe people will understand what you are actually stating or asking instead of trying to guess between the lies – no, not a typo!
I remember a training video from years ago where a Dutch guy talked about having “real” conversations with people. At the time I did not really get his point but I fully bought into this approach when I was leading a factory in Jeddah, Saud Arabia. Direct, unambiguous conversations may be going against the British stiff upper lip but they ultimately led to a much higher level of understanding, achievement and success for all parties in a very diverse environment.
Clear communication is vital along the extended supply chain and there is no place for smoke and mirrors. You simply have to deal with hard facts to ensure everyone knows what to expect and what is happening. If you are right, say so and explain why. If you are wrong, accept and move on. How many hours and Euros are lost on a daily basis when sales and supply chain constantly bicker about some small sticking point which is actually irrelevant in the grander scheme of things?
Stop waging personal battles and start winning the war against the competition with simple and clear communication.
So, walk the talk, toe the line, get your thinking cap on, reach for the sky and the world is your oyster.
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