Photo Credit: Joe Ditzel

Photo Credit: Joe Ditzel

I want to discuss communication plans using 2 variables, simplicity and effectiveness. I must start by saying that even though it seems all too obvious, there is no causality between the complexity of your communication plan and its effectiveness. Do we agree on that? Good.

Complexity isn’t inherently a bad thing. What can be bad for many companies is when we begin with over complication. Think about it, you’ve been tasked with being better at “telling your stories” in your role. So you sit with the team and lay out exactly what that means and what you’re all going to do in order to be better at that. Would you give your best salesperson the task of writing 500 words a day and posting to Facebook 4 times a day, responsible for responding to all comments, and measuring the outcome and adjusting her activity appropriately? Of course not. That kind of activity would never be accomplished. What if you asked her, “Once per day, could you post to Fb something that you learned in the field that day?”

What could be learned from that one activity? First off, that sales person begins to “notice.” As she is in the field going about her daily activity, she knows that she has to post something to Fb today, so she’s constantly on the lookout for interesting things. How about when people begin commenting and sharing? Well, that just feeds on itself, and it’s not long before she’s posting twice a day… and tweeting. Do you think you might learn some things that are happening in the field that you weren’t aware of? And of course, while she’s doing this, she’s filling her toolbox with all sorts of new stories because she’s crafting them into a Fb post. So next time a client has the same kind of issue, she’s got that story ready to go. All because the original act of posting once a day to Fb was so simple.

Complexity is anything that feels heavy to you, and what’s complex to one organization might feel simple to another. Hiring someone to manage social media, creating a high quality video, or radio commercial… these might all be considered complex or simple, depending on your organization or personal preference.

To be clear, it’s not that complexity is a bad thing, it’s that complexity is (often times) impossible to achieve without first going through simplicity. In the beginning especially, complexity can lead to ineffectiveness. Starting with simple builds a foundation for effective communication. Once your organization has taken some small steps toward effectiveness, then some level of complexity can be introduced in order to maximize effectiveness.

Zig Ziglar says that repetition is the mother of learning and the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment… so keeping it simple allows us to begin taking action and creating repetition. Simple means being able to understand how these tasks can be accomplished within our daily work schedule. This allows us to begin the process of “doing,” which is the single most important component to any strategy.

In 2015, “Who we are and what we do” had better be an ever changing dynamic within your organization. Communicating who you are is a process that feeds on itself. Communicating who you are is a self fulfilling prophecy. Through the process of communication in a real and authentic way, we begin to reach a deeper understanding of who we are and what we want. The act of communication, and relying on your organization to be a part of this journey, is the only true way to understanding how your stories shape you.

An interesting exercise is to use a 2x2 like this and map out your communication activities.

Things to think about:

  • What are the criteria for measuring effectiveness and complexity?
  • If I have things in the lower left, I’ve either got plans in place to move it to another quadrant, or I’m not doing it anymore.
  • I want most of my work to live in the upper right quadrant.
  • I don’t hate the upper left or lower right quadrant, but I’m also not crazy about them.
  • What is your strategy for getting more of your work to the upper right hand quadrant?