As I merrily helped put together a document for “Executive” consumption, I stated that a certain topic wasn’t succinct enough. Protests abounded. They had so much to say that it simply all had to be kept in.
The problem I had was that the info didn’t fit onto a single page.
Unaware that this stipulation could be so contentious, I quickly realised that I was required to explain this revolutionary concept.
So impassioned was my case that I even evoked the age of parchment and quill.
One of the earliest business lessons I got was when a Board member asked me for info, only to suggest that the data I’d proudly prepared was illegible.
Realising that I was wet-behind-the-ears, the chap took me to one side and showed me how to present it on a single piece of paper. Managers, he told me, with such short attention spans coupled with hatred of complexity, must never be given anything on more than one page.
I even remember joking with him that I hoped his ‘office automation’ lesson that helped me achieve his aim hadn’t cost the £350 that it was then customary to pay for a day’s such ‘tuition’.
Brevity, I learned, counts.
It’s a maxim that has happily stayed with me ever since. Whether it be a topic in a business plan, a description of a process, or a benefit expressed in beautiful hard cash, it always sticks to a single page.