The Challenge of Complexity:
Irrespective of sector, whether it’s healthcare, education, financial services or even in marketing communications — a field that should know better — we all speak our own language. It’s often characterized by coined phrases, acronyms and hyphenates.
You know what I’m talking about, right? In social impact, we discuss and debate philosophies like “effective altruism,” “conscious capitalism” and “trust-based philanthropy,” and alignment of strategies with the SDGs and ESGs. In the finance sector, phrases like fintech, blockchain, unicorns and gamma hedging abound. And don’t get me started on professional services, where practitioners have been using phrases like, “one plus one equals three,” “the tip of the spear” and “upskilling” for years. Shall I even begin to address the rise of the “metaverse”?
Now imagine you’re in a global context, and those phrases, acronyms and hyphenates need to be extended to different languages and cultures.
While we can shake our heads at the complexity of it all, and even threaten a buzzword bingo throwdown or two, we continue to embrace and advance jargon. We do so under the guise of “innovative thinking,” “disruptive approaches” and “catalytic impact.” But truthfully, we’re just creating exclusionary environments that fail to totally clarify issues, wholly unify audiences and fully inspire people to action.
Now, as we face rising temperatures around the world — both literally and figuratively — there is no time for unnecessary complexity. To transform conversations, causes and communities for good, we simply must communicate with clarity for greater unity and the advancement of our society.
The Promise of Clarity:
So, next time you’re tempted to say, “systems approach,” why not try to communicate the importance of seeing how everything is connected — from education to housing to health and more? When you’re tempted to talk about “reskilling” or “upskilling,” what about just sharing the importance of investing in people to advance their personal and professional growth? For the blockchain crowd, how about simply expressing that it’s a better way of securing, storing, and sharing digital information — and the benefits extend well beyond cryptocurrency.
Most importantly, let’s always remember that clarity is the antidote to complexity and answer to positive conversation, collaboration and change.