An Unusual Silence

One of the ways U.S. intelligence forces found Osama Bin Laden was the absence of an electronic signature around his Abbottabad compound. In a noisy and wired world, the building without signals and wires stood out.

Pablum – The Silent Killer

“Pablum,” he said.

I’m fairly proud of my vocabulary, but I was embarrassed to admit I didn’t know what that word meant. “It means ‘mush’,” he said, “like there’s nothing there to chew on.”

I was at Guidant Corporation, and we were being acquired. He was a VP in charge of integrating the two companies’ sales forces, and he was describing the messages we were producing to educate our employees.

Story Time

Recently I helped a client’s executives craft key messages about a disruptive change they were implementing. It struck me that the change was complex, the messaging was complex, and that the organization’s employees were going to be lost and confused.

So I drew a picture on the white board and told a story…

Buried Deep

Paula Haffley is a Physician’s Assistant at Clarian Bariatrics. She writes about patients who come to her after their bariatric surgery to complain about hard masses showing up on their bodies that didn’t used to be there. They typically are very worried about their health. Cancer? Deformity?

Paula then explains to them that what they are feeling is a clavicle, or a sternum, or a patella. The patients have lived for so long with these anatomical landmarks covered in layers of flesh that they forgot about them.

Bypassing the Water Cooler: Communicating in Times of Change

When major changes are announced in an organization, an interesting dynamic develops:
Employees have a greater than usual need for information.
Leaders tend to more strictly control the flow of information.

In times of uncertainty, employees increase their sensitivity to any signals present, frequently misinterpreting whatever facts are available and filling the information gap with bizarre scenarios they have generated. Rumors, half-truths, and well-intentioned guesses end up dominating the talk around the water cooler.