I think the term “Sesame Street Simple” is going to be my new mantra. It’s the approach I’ve always taken anyway; my clients tease me that I always break things down into groups of threes and then repeat incessantly. A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble’s CEO is the catalyst for this discussion:
Although executives who talk about many ideas and complex ideas will be viewed as smarter — wiser and more effective executives pick just a few simple messages and repeat them over and over again until people throughout the organization internals them and use them to guide action. Constantly changing messages lead to the “flavor of the month problem” where people don’t act on the current message because they have learned that, if they wait a few months (or days) the message will change (managers in such organizations become very skilled at talking as if they acting on the flavor of the month, but not actually doing the thing that senior executives are pushing at the moment.) And making things overly complicated may make the senior executives seem smart and feel smart , but if a message is too complicated understand, it is also means that the implications for action are impossible to understand as well.
Here is a U.S. News and World Report article that describes A.G.’s style in more detail. For this post, here is the key paragraph:
Repeat after me. If that sounds simplistic, Lafley is the first to admit that it is. Yet in a company where more than half the employees don’t speak English as their first language, he says his Sesame Street- simple slogans, repeated over and over, keep everyone trained on what’s important. Human beings “don’t want to stay focused,” he says. “So my job is to get them to focus their creativity around the focus; focus their productivity around the focus; focus their efficiency or effectiveness around the focus.”
Over the years, I’ve found myself boiling down community work into a few key phrases. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll certainly recognize them:
- Everybody goes home happy
- Open and Honest Relationship
- Community is a Dating Relationship
- Everybody has their own kink
Simple, repeatable ideas almost find their footing. A community manager, for instance, is a driver of simple ideas in a way that the community can own them and propagate them.
What about you? Are you distilling complex ideas into easy to repeat morsels in your own jobs?