How many organisations truly care who understands their goals and strategic objectives? Sure they put on a good show of launching their weighty ideals at the AGM or at the start of a new CEO's tenure but how many employees "get it"? Can you tell me what your organisation's objectives are – without looking them up?
Here's the deal – this is the most important bit of information, dare I say it, intelligence your workforce has regarding where you want to go. Yet little or no importance is given to the UNDERSTANDING of this information. No one measures whether these goals and objectives are understood. Some companies go so far as embedding them into their employee's performance plans but still do not ascertain whether these employees have a true understanding of what is intended.
Do you remember playing the game of chinese whispers as a kid? Not so politically correct today but essentially it shows how the message can change or get distorted based on the degrees of separation. Don't confuse this with the Kevin Bacon game – it's not nearly as fun.
Often times we listen to information half-heartedly, half-mindedly, or mindlessly. In other words, we don't take in the information as it is intended. Particularly if it's not put in a language or context we can easily understand.
The easier you make the message the greater the understanding. If you can envelop the message in a picture or symbol that sums up the purpose then that's pure gold. We humans are primed to remember visuals more than text, more than numbers, more than anything.
Why? Our brains. The way our brains are wired hasn't really changed that much from caveman days. Our brains then were not sophisticated, they were very rudimentary.
Remember where the good stuff is – go there. Remember where the bad stuff is – don't go there. Learn how to communicate with your tribe. Simple. We didn't have clear, concise language. Really it was just a series of grunts with different pitches. We did use symbols, drawn in the dirt or on cave walls to "represent" things. Our earliest language was pictures and music (sounds).
So if we know this about our brain why not use it?
Why don't we pitch our most important messaging about goals, strategy and objectives using a language readily understood by everyone. Pictures and music.
The film and television industry cottoned onto this in the early days of film. It was all about pictures and music – well before language was introduced via the "talkies". Those early silent films were understood by a much wider audience – they didn't need translation. The actors in silent films came from the stage, where body language and movement meant something.
When talkies came into being the films lost some of that "shorthand", that easy understanding. And of course it was limited based on language and how easy it was to understand the language used.
The film industry quickly understood that introducing language, via talking, wasn't just about dialogue. You had to tell a story. The rise of the scriptwriter ensued, with films making or breaking based on the script. It is ever so today. Films can be simple or sophisticated, but their success depends on our understanding of the messaging, the story.
Visual messaging – keep it simple stupid or keep it visual stupid. A picture really does tell 1000 words. You just have to select a good image that goes with a good story.
Know your Audience – pitch your message to the audience intended. That means understanding your messaging well enough to change it for each group.
Review your Audience – ensure you messaging is understood by asking them what you said.
The most important piece of work any organisation can do is to ensure everyone understands where they want to go.