Posts from the “Communication” Category


Posted on May 13, 2016


Cosmetics send a message. Appearances matter. Yes, we should focus on substance. And yes, we can intentionally break some rules. No, I won’t mind if there are a few typos in your instant message. But please please please (as I told a team this week), clean your conference room before the meeting…it smells noticeably. “The rules of appropriate dress for time, place and occasion allowed people to get on with their work without distractions…” –Linda Przybyszewski in TIME *

The Sizzle and the Steak

Posted on October 7, 2014


Early in my consulting career, while working a project in New Jersey, I drove to Atlantic City for an evening. I met some teammates for dinner, played cards for a few hours and then drove back to my usual hotel near the client site. The next morning I walked into the office and was immediately confronted by one of my project managers – where did you go last night, who was with you, etc. – turns out some guys hadn’t made it back yet, and along with eight others I was now branded a member of the “AC9”. It didn’t matter what exactly was done or not done by each individual, what mattered was the negative narrative for the group. Dealing with communication as much as we did, we should have…

The Power of Norms

Posted on August 22, 2014


A recent NBER working paper demonstrates the power of social norms in translating communication to action and provides a good example of how messages can be tailored to the intended audience. As summarized in “The Behavioralist as Tax Collector: Using Natural Field Experiments to Enhance Tax Compliance” the highest increase in tax payments for tardy payers was correlated with the use of specific norm-based messaging: *

Collect, Edit, Showcase

Posted on June 30, 2014


Much of my consulting work (the work within the work, so to speak) involves collecting, editing and showcasing information. The more successful the project, the more likely each of these processes has been well planned and executed, even if they are only underlying activities within the project. Collect Gather information relevant to the question at hand. Understand the context, obtain qualitative and quantitative data (note: the most challenging step in data analysis is usually getting the data) and review opinions from a wide range of sources. Consider the source of the source. Compare to prior experiences, existing knowledge and recent trends. Begin to analyze and fill in gaps. Edit Perform analysis iterations using an appropriate framework. Understand the evolving conclusions and messages. Prioritize and conduct further research. Focus…

Perspectives in Words

Posted on June 7, 2014


Jacob of ERE fame neatly demonstrates how (one-sided) impressions of reality can be reflected in wording choice. Consider a summary of an introvert from an extrovert’s perspective: Introverts have an inward focus and aren’t usually the life of the party. They have a strong sense of self that can make them feel highly self-conscious around other people – making walking into a crowded room a little nerve-wracking. Introverts have a hard time being goofy in front of the camera and telling jokes to more than a couple of people at a time, but they can be extremely witty. They’re less “Larry, Curly, and Moe” and more Woody Allen. And Jacob’s inverse alternative: Extroverts have an outward focus and usually don’t read a lot. They have a weak sense…

The Feedback Guessing Game

Posted on May 17, 2014


Too often the guidance we give and receive is vague or open to wide interpretation. Feedback like do better, this doesn’t work or you need to win this, as one of my teams was told this week, unsure if it was receiving a career threat or a commitment for support. If there isn’t a clear vision of what to do differently, or a shared understanding of specific changes to make, it probably won’t happen. *