Many of us know all about those never-ending projects, with endless meetings about meetings and consultants tying users in knots with their jargon-laden presentations, giant charts and flow diagrams? I was reading The Times recently and one reader wrote in on this subject, which really struck a chord with me.
He went on to suggest that many people attending such meetings don't actually have a clue what's being said, or is actually going on, but fear to challenge the situation or demand clarification.
I would guess many people would empathise with their situation.
Working client-side, I've been through meetings about corporate rebrands with consultants who appear festooned with acronyms, casually dropping all sorts of buzzwords. They seem at times to thrive on the blank looks and vacant nods of their audience.
I've even seen clients simply batting suppliers' buzzwords straight back at them, reinforcing the façade that everyone understands what in fact is going on.
This, obviously, is startlingly bad form.
There's no such thing as a stupid question. If it needs asking, it is the person presenting who might be at fault. In communication, the person receiving and perceiving is king (or queen) – and in business, the customer is king.
But when hired as an expert, maybe the vendor knows best. Wrong. Well, sort of. Both parties know best, in different ways. You know your business, they know theirs.
Work it out together. It's that middle ground, where the killer solution is likely to be found and the master plan drawn up.
That's why vendors, resellers and customers should challenge one another – in plain English, with metaphors and analogies as required, to ensure deep understanding.
'Simple is a dirty word these days,' wrote our man in The Times. I don't agree with that at all. Simple is genius.
Overcomplication is a cloak to disguise where genius (or even good old common sense) is sadly lacking. There's a great quote from American bluesman Woody Guthrie, which goes that any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.
So, if it sounds dead complicated, it's probably not the masterpiece you were hoping for.
Nodding and smiling, when really you've got a burning question, can result down the track in a serious waste of money. And who has got money to waste these days? So, know what you want, know how to ask for it and speak your mind.
Glenn Hickling is communications manager at Buffalo Communications
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