Mar 16 2011

Blogging may be the antithesis of concision, Twitter is not. I received a Twitter message yesterday forwarded from a friend that said “Anyone know anyone with Lean/Six sigma in manufacturing? anyone know the best place to look?” Since I am a Lean Manufacturing Consultant I thought “great, an opportunity to offer my (our) services”. I suppose it was because I was in a very “sales” place mentally (actually on a pitch) that I was thinking that it was an opportunity to make a sale and not an opportunity to change companies. Alas I was mistaken, it was a position as a consultant in another company, not someone looking to hire consulting services from our company. 🙁 I am relatively happy in my role and the only thing that happened is that I was able to forward on some info to a friend who may be interested.

What is interesting though, is how often we say to be concise in our speech & writing, do not drone on about something, get your point across and do it quickly, do not waste people’s time. Twitter is a great medium for that, but there is also the risk that the message gets misconstrued as in this case. How often do “Tweets” gets misunderstood? Is it pushing the boundary of what can be said, limiting what can be said to 140 characters; The above Tweet had 48 to spare…

I’ve never been accused of being concise, even when asked to do so. I suppose that’s why I find it easy to fill an essay for school with 1000 words on subjects as interesting as why depreciation rules are flexible and how to avoid “creative finance”. Communication is an absolute necessity for leadership, its one of Maxwell’s 21 Indispensable Qualities (http://www.amazon.co.uk/21-Indispensable-Qualities-Leader/dp/0785274405) and I would argue it is essential to be successful at any level, in any industry, in any walk of life. Being concise is not essential, but it can help in many ways, especially when you are time limited. But be careful that your concision does not reduce the message or open up the communication to misinterpretation. It is often better to spend the extra time and give the full story so that people on the receiving end are going away with the message you intended, not the one they interpreted from the lack of full information.

I once wrote a paper on words, there were somewhere in the region of 1000 words in the paper, I am a bit of a fan of etymology and that may be why I struggle to be concise – does this make me a good communicator? I bet people think I drone on, I know I’m not concise, but i would also say that people rarely are unsure of what I mean. Maybe the balance isn’t right, maybe it is, but at 476 words, this is  as concise as I get!

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