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Living in a One Page World
By Tony Jeary,
Author of Strategic Acceleration: Succeed at the Speed of Life

Words, words, words! The world is becoming a word blur through email, web blogs, magazines, and books. Then, there are endless numbers of reports, proposals, studies and technical publications that also demand significant pieces of our time. The word explosion and the dissemination of those words is one of the by-products of the information age and digital technology. Millions of people can cut and paste billions and trillions of words in an instant, but who is reading all of it? My guess is a small percentage. How many times have you prepared a lengthy document and the responses you get seem to indicate that few people really read the thing?

While the digital age makes it easier to compile and share lots of text, the competition for the time people invest in reading has been increased dramatically. How many emails a week do you trash or ignore that invite you to read something? How many books would you like to read but just don't have the time? How many newspapers are left unread, beyond the headlines? Here's the point: This glut of words has become a factor in the way you compete for business and communicate your value. If you can't get it done on one page, you will probably not be heard! We truly live in a one-page world!

The hardest thing to write is something short. Most people use far more words to make their point than is really necessary. Their writing rambles on and on and on, talking about things that really aren't essential. That works for a novel, but not in business communications. If you want to communicate or sell an idea you have to be able to frame the important things and capture the value proposition in as few words as possible. This seems obvious, I'm sure. So why do people have such a hard time achieving it? Writing skills are part of the problem, but there are lots of good writers who can help -- if they know what to say!

Understanding what to say, and the best way to say it is impossible without clarity! "Clarity." What a word, what a concept! I spend quite a bit of my time writing, thinking, and teaching others about this dynamic seven-letter word. It's such an important word, full of potential, promise, and possibility, and it holds the destiny of individuals and organizations in its powerful grip. The basic definition of clarity is having an unfettered view of your vision, which is what you want and why you want it, fed by an understanding of its purpose and value. When it comes to communicating your ideas and your unique selling position, you can see why clarity is the ingredient that makes living in a one-page world feasible and so powerful. The key to achieving clarity is found in the word why.

Why is clarified by understanding purpose and value. Most important, it relates to the positive perceptions people have about purpose and value. If a small group of people create a plan that is mandated for others to follow without ensuring those people have a positive perception of the plan, then focus and execution will be bumpy, to say the least. If there is a negative perception of purpose and value, there will be no willingness to exceed expectations or change voluntarily so that superior results can be achieved.

To understand how purpose can and will contribute to the clarity you have about your communication, you must be able to answer one simple question:

"Why is what I want important to me and to others?"

If you can't articulate specific reasons why your vision is important to you and to others, then you do not understand your purpose. It's also important to understand that purpose is a transcendent concept that actually wraps itself around your vision and carries it. For example, in the case of a war, the vision might be to win the war, but the purpose of going to war is to preserve freedom. The motivation of preserving freedom (the purpose) actually transcends the vision of winning the war and legitimizes the entire effort. Communicating value in a one-page world demands that you understand the transcendent purpose of your value proposition and present it clearly and succinctly to your audience.

The transcendent purpose of your proposition is directly related to touching the felt needs of those you want to influence. Value is an issue of perception. When sales are made based on higher perceived value, people will pay more for it. It is unfortunate that many businesses have difficulty articulating their value proposition in a powerful way. This is particularly true of businesses that offer services. Many lack clarity as to what their value proposition really is, or should be, and they have great difficulty putting it into words. They continually search for the elusive, 30-second elevator speech that makes a powerful statement about what they do and the value they bring to the marketplace. They intuitively have an idea about what it might be, but they have a hard time putting it in words.

The difficulty in producing this kind of effective language is caused by not being able to grasp the issues the value proposition must address. Organizations need a value proposition containing language that impacts the listener at the level of  "felt need". What exactly is a felt need and why is it important? Felt needs are about solutions to problems and challenges. People are instinctively problem/solution oriented with respect to their thinking. Your problems may be minor or they may be devastatingly serious. Whatever they may be, you intuitively look for solutions for all of them. Long before solutions for significant problems and challenges are discovered, you usually feel like something new is needed to provide solutions you can actually implement. These conditions are what felt needs are all about. To effectively communicate your value to others, you must touch them at the level of their felt needs. You will be most effective when you can do this on one page!

Copyright © 2009 Tony Jeary, author of Strategic Acceleration: Succeed at the Speed of Life.

Tony Jeary, author of Strategic Acceleration: Succeed at the Speed of Life, has been and continues to be the coach to the world's top CEOs and high achievers for more than 20 years. His clients include the Presidents of Wal-Mart, Firestone, Shell, Samsung, New York Life, and the United States Senate, to name only a few. An advisor to many, Tony Jeary has invested his life and career in helping others discover new clarity for their vision, develop focus on direction, and create powerful execution strategies that strategically impact achievement and results. Tony is happily married and blessed with 2 great daughters.

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