Having closely followed several large companies, I have often come across an apparent paradox: some are afraid to communicate despite brilliantly achieving their objectives, while other communicate very intensely and reach their intended targets effectively when, in fact, they are empty shells conducting projects with no roadmaps, no solid deliverables and no clear strategy. Instead, these excel in the art of creating smoke screens to hide the essential fact that their products or services are irrelevant, obsolete or inadequate if compared to the competition.
Imagine yourself walking past a shop in which you see THE perfect item to match your needs and your budget. As you decide to go to the shop, a clamour rises around you from people loudly sharing an irrelevant but eye-catching message to distract you from your target. Once inside the shop, you find you can't concentrate on what the shopkeeper is saying as the noise from the street rises continuously, desperate to draw you away to their wares. This clamour is exactly what some businesses love to generate in terms of communication. They catch your attention, leading you astray from the path you had chosen for yourself, instilling doubt, making you question the rationale behind your purchase decision. Generally speaking, real innovations, and the most interesting products or services, make much fewer waves, draw much less attention than what you regularly encounter in mass communication; they don’t ‘go viral’, as we say today, or as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said in his day: "Real miracles make little noise!"
Ground breaking products, disruptive technology, killer apps, are mostly designed by perfectionists, who whish their products to be introduced to the world in the right way and at the right time. Many put off communicating about their product until the perfect time comes, blind to the fact there is no perfect time to communicate as any deliverable is perfectible. As such generalizations are hazardous I would not go so far as to say that all companies which communicate effectively and get noticed are just empty shells. Nonetheless, it is really unfortunate that so many companies (and individuals) do not communicate despite strong, original and authentic content, very tangible achievements and considerable assets!
To understand this phenomenon, look at things from the point of view of individuals and think of the hesitations some people have when prompted to talk about one of their achievements with their manager or in a meeting ... they wonder whether they should speak out, or might be unsure how to present their message... and, as I mentioned earlier, whether the time is right. And while they are asking themselves all these questions, their stress increases immensely, more often than not leading to finally answer that more time is required before speaking out, taking action or communicating. Certainly, timing and content relevance are crucial to effective communication. But these must not be the only factors of our ability to communicate, either as individuals or organizations.
The start of communication around project deliverables should only be rationalized once the project is finalized and deliverables are ready. Communicate on milestones, features, effort, progress, what has been done and not just what remains to be done. This is more engaging and motivating for stakeholders and even for customers. You should trust the relevance of your own initiatives, have self-confidence both as a person and as an organization.Self-confidence is also a matter of not comparing ourselves to others and recognising we all have excellent talents, competences, or ideas, which deserve to be shared. It is also important to maintain an active watch on the effects of over-communication by your competitors. This will require more clarity and better quality arguments rather than focusing on the sheer volume of your communication!
By Farid Yandouz