The thought “if I had more time I would have written a shorter letter” has been attributed to so many authors: how wise they all were.

There’s a current business version of this reverse ratio of ‘brevity to time’.  It concerns brevity and change or transformation success. Have you noticed how the longer and wordier the documentation and change implementation plan…the more elusive success seems to be?  Is it the wish to control that is counter-productive?

Might there be a mistaken belief that a full and detailed re-organisation plan is necessary to demonstrate seriousness and concern? Is length and weight a way of disguising a lack of confidence about what is needed?

I’m beginning to wonder whether some of the problem lies, oddly, in the use of ….words.
Because reading and writing aren’t really the same process.

Man has been able to ‘read’ signs and symbols long before being able to write.
The distinguished explorer William Thesiger (amongst his best known sayings – ‘The harder the life, the finer the person’) described desert tracking with a Bedouin (who was illiterate) in the 1940s.

‘The Bedouin examined the camel tracks and crumbled dry droppings between his fingers. “They were Awamir. There were six. They have raided the Hunuba on the southern coast and taken three of their camels. They have come here from Sahma and watered at Maghshin. They passed here ten days ago.”

There is a link between tracking in the desert and a successful phase of change.  It is all about adventure, self-reliance, and discovery.

The signs are followed, not instructions.

And there is room for interpretation, for discussion, for improvisation.

There might just be a case for writing as little as possible down about the ‘how to’ of any desired change project.  What a pleasure it would be to re-discover and re-invent pictograms, petroglyphs, pectograms and logograms.

What a pleasure to lose all that leaden jargon of milestones and kpis.  Especially empty verbiage such as ’going forward’.

Creative conversation around signs and symbols will ensure that things move along just fine.

I Ching pictogram for ‘change’.