Clarity of Thinking, Simplicity of Communication

by Mark Edwards

As companies in the software tech sector weave their way through the ongoing consolidation of technologies, delivering increased efficiency, cost reductions, business process enabling solutions and improved customer experience, their scramble for a larger piece of the revenue pie, will be shaped by two things - Their clarity of thinking (understanding of this sector and their position within it) and their simplicity of communication.

Clarity of thinking and simplicity of communication have always been a problem for software vendors and service providers alike. They inhabit a jargonistic world, littered with confusing, often overlapping acronyms. A sort of “private club” where few dare to raise a hand to say they don’t understand –

This persistent status quo is a golden opportunity for those companies that are able to step back a few paces and take a good, hard look at the sector and - most importantly – at their own business, from a critical stance.

Clarity of Thinking Propels Business Achievement

Within even the smallest of businesses, once you scratch the surface, there is enormous complexity and detail.  The challenge for any business leader is to be able to step above the daily frustrations, obstacles, demands, deadlines and internal politics, to clarify in their own mind their plan for business success.  This means, not only having a true understanding of their own business - including its strengths and weaknesses - but also, an understanding of the environment in which they operate.  This latter point includes customer needs and frustrations and the market drivers and influences within the software sector as a whole.

Although the plan for success requires great detail and complexity, it is also essential it can be distilled into a succinct and clear précis that is easily understood and can be communicated within 60 seconds. Such clarity is the compass for all your future initiatives and must gather your business TEAM together as one, all working in the same direction, towards the same objectives.

When identifying the really important issues in your business, clarity of thinking is imperative; pay attention to the actions that will make the greatest difference, rather than allowing yourself to become distracted by the seemingly urgent. This is a skill that you and all your management team must develop and continually refine.

Simplicity of Communication for Understanding and Endorsement

To be clear, "simplicity" does not mean “simplistic” - or the over-simplification of complex issues. “Simplicity” is the ability to cut straight to the heart of the message and communicate that message to an audience - be that one or thousands - in language THEY can easily understand.

To gain support and endorsement for your ideas and services, you first need to gain understanding from your target audience - This requires clear communication. This may be from fellow executive team members, employees or potential customers. Clear communication, in terms they understand and can appreciate, is pivotal to the success of your organisation.

In an industry that is dominated by increasingly innovative technology, it is truly shocking to note how many confusing, dull and overly complex presentations are delivered evry day to captive audiences.  The same can be said when looking at company websites; 98% of presentations and websites in this sector range from poor to barely adequate.

Be Memorable 

Business professionals, who have spent their working life as communicators, often fail to realise that most of what they are presenting is either not understood or is forgotten within hours because it was just not memorable.

Deliver the salient facts to your potential clients.

Don’t drown them in every available statistic. Numbing them into submission.

Decide on 3 to 5 things you want your audience to remember about your company and its services. Make sure that those points are presented in a way that is easy to understand - and memorable.

If you have a lot more facts for your audience, give them a fact sheet that they can refer to. But remember, you need to gain their attention and interest – FIRST. If you don’t want that fact sheet filed in the nearest round receptacle.

Much of the latter problem could be alleviated by attention to my first point about paying attention to your own clarity of thinking. 

Lose the Jargon!

Another huge improvement could be made by studying the perspective of your intended audience. We are all aware of the big "no-no" of using acronyms and jargon and have often repeated this as a warning to others. But, let's be honest, how often does it slip into our discussions, presentations and articles?

Below, is a genuine example of the type of jargonistic approach organisations need to avoid like the veritable plague. (I have changed the company name)

"Confused Software Solutions provides software and services for retail and distribution businesses that help them deliver measurable multi-channel revenue growth by helping businesses implement a step-by-step roadmap to becoming a fully integrated, efficient, omni-channel business through implementation of our integrated back office, retail and eCommerce solutions."

Do you know what they do?

Where the magic starts…

Whenever I meet and speak with senior executives from this sector I see far too often people who are over-worked and swamped. 

They literally race from one meeting or call to the next, answering emails, questions and solving problems, with very little thinking time in between.

Their work ethic is commendable. However, as a business leader, their role is to think, have vision and be a leader to those around them.

For these, so, so busy individuals, it's essential there are times when the mobile is switched off, emails are ignored, the office door is closed and THINKING TIME is permitted.

What are the really big issues for your company? 

Where are the biggest wins going to come from? - And what are your best next actions to make sure they happen?

Focusing on the really important issues in your business and being able to express them clearly and concisely for yourself, your employees & co-workers - as well as for your potential clients - is the path to reaping rich dividends in the future.


Mark Edwards