Today we are going away from traditional management material again to have some fun with the documentation of strategy. You see, writing a mission, goals and principles for your organisation is not just about developing smart strategy – it’s about defining the culture of your organisation and making it stick.
When company strategy and culture is full of pretty words, but is not put into practice, your organisation obviously has issues. In these cases your employees – probably rightly – are going to have some deep-seated antagonism and cynicism toward whatever words you choose.
However if you genuinely set out on the well-trodden road of trying to embed cultural change within your organisation, passing plenty of casualties on the kerb as you go, a special set of mission, goals and principles may make a big difference.
So today we’re exploring some creative writing tools that might help with turning something ordinary into something special that staff in your organisation can easily recall and fight for. Why not hey?! And we’ll try and have a bit of fun with it.
Where better to go for these examples of adding sweetness to your goals than back to the lolly shop.
Alliteration – this is the repetition of a specific sound on the stressed syllable of words multiple times within a phrase. It is very effective at making the phrase memorable and generally sounds cool! I personally have a soft spot for alliteration too as you’ll see in many of the titles of my posts.
For example one of Wally Sweetstuff’s franchises might seek to “Promote predilection for less-plentiful pastries”.
Assonance – This is the repetition of vowel sounds within words to create an internal sort of rhyming effect. This is something I am not usually conscious of, but in writing I will often select one word instead of another due to the way it sounds in a sentence – in reality it often comes down to assonance.
For example “Increase the reach of our advertising at the seaside”
Consonance – Conversely, this is the repetition of consonant sounds within words to create a similarly memorable and satisfying impact.
For example, “Make each customer whimper with the impact of temptation”. Hmmm that might not quite be hitting the right note. Let’s move on quickly to…
Rhyme – The easy one. We all know what rhyme is, but I think it’s seen as something to put in children’s nursery rhymes or tacky commercials rather than a tool of corporate culture change. I personally don’t mind a bit of rhyme… Nor the humour that it generally creates (how many words rhyme with ‘profit’?). If you’re trying to create a culture of innovation and positivity, what better way than embedding a sense of humor into your goals?
For example, taking the assonance example above one step further… “Increase the reach of our adverts at the beach”.
Or with a slight injection of humour: “Up like the Andes, make everyone want candies.”
Doing this exercise today I find it interesting to see how often using one of these techniques leads me naturally toward the use of another at the same time. You may have already noticed the use of another technique – the use of a simile – in the most recent example.
Simile – the use of ‘like’ or ‘as’ and similar connecting words to provide an example of the initial concept. I would imagine that there could be times where this may create a great use of humour in a goal statement… But then again it might just confuse things and undermine the clarity that the SMARTER acronym aims for.
To illustrate this, see the previous example, or if rhyming makes you retch (alliteration), here’s another one:
“Increase demand, like a rocket soaring for the stars.”
Metaphor – I’ll definitely admit defeat with this one! Using metaphors in goal statements would be extremely distracting, sad as I am to say it. Metaphors take the idea of similes one step further and instead of comparing two different concepts it actually says that one concept is the other concept. Confusing in the corporate world, although it can be put to wonderful use in fiction literature and advertising.
“Make profit, a peak amongst the plains.”
Yes. A bit too obscure to be an effective goal.
I’ve obviously gone all out with these examples in a way that isn’t necessarily going to be helpful in the real world, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t pay a bit of attention to the rhythm and satisfaction of the phrases you do choose. So before you go off to play with some of these techniques, let me know what you think.
What do you think?
Do you think these approaches could help in strategy design for your organisation or are you cynical? And can you provide any examples of how they may or may not have worked for you?
(And for the first person to post their comment in rhyme I’ll throw in a free copy of my e-book on the subject of this blog. If /when it ever gets written, that is!)