All businesses are looking to make things “simple”. After all, Apple – the pioneers of simplicity – has done pretty well because of it. So, there’s lots of talk and initiatives about removing needless processes, and simplifying others.
Of course, it’s also important to simplify communications. Here’s a list of things that don’t make things simple:
- Running meetings with too many people, who make decision making slower
- Meetings where some/all agenda items could have been decided in 121s/by email
- Groups being constrained by having to sit through a detailed PowerPoint, when a chat accompanied by a flipchart would have done much better
- Discussions about solving problems which focus largely on the problem and its ramifications, rather than going straight to looking for the solution
- Lots of senior people giving their own personal slant on centrally-produced information. This often just adds noise, not value
- Needless communication processes that were initiated years ago because one person did one thing wrong once. These processes are pointless, but have become entrenched in the culture
- Insufficient preparation upfront. This means the communication doesn’t go well, so everyone has to spend ages trying to rectify it
- Weekly update meetings that add nothing
- FYI emails, again, that add nothing
I could advise ‘just stop doing all that’. And, in an ideal world, that would be all that’s needed. But, it’s hard (impossible?) to permanently break habits just like that.
However, there are simple things you can do which would take zero time, but make a big difference:
- Invite less people to meetings (maybe send the arising actions to interested non-attendees?)
- Have shorter agendas. Even better, don’t call a meeting unless it has to be a meeting
- Take flipcharts to meetings, not PowerPoints
- Start problem-solving meetings with “we all agree X is a problem. This meeting will help us remove it. So let’s start by discussing the first possible solution we’ve identified, which is …”
- If you’re senior, don’t communicate your views on centrally-produced information, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Once you’ve stopped, ask people what were the adverse effects, if any
- Stop pointless comms/processes for a week and see what happens. If ‘nothing’, don’t re-install them
- Diarise to prep
- Reduce updates – have them fortnightly, not weekly; and/or make them 30 minutes, not 60… or just stop having them
- Never, ever send something FYI. Instead, write what you want them to do with it: ‘Please read, and tell me if we need to adapt our approach’ etc
All these are simple. The only reason for not doing them is habit, not complexity.
Given all this, it’s clear that it’s simple to make certain things simple. How can you best help yourself/others by doing so?
Look at your communications this week. What could you do, to make some/all of them simpler? (This Tip’s given you nine ideas to kick things off).
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