Schlagwort-Archive: Content

The Damocles Sword for managers – the level of incompetence

If the career accelerates further and further and the values get lost on the way, then the incompetence lurks behind all corners. The fate of an executive hangs on a single horse hair. In the past we used to talk about the Peter Principle – i.e. in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence. Now everything happens so quickly that this level is reached sooner, because the experienced mentors are lacking. With the appropriate attention, countermeasures could be taken at an early stage.

What are, however, practices that should be considered in order to delay this stage as long as possible?

  • Keep a low voice
    The vernacular says, „Who cries is wrong.“ If you believe the statements of contemporaries, then neither Steve Jobs had resisted the pressure to yell, nor does Elon Musk have this self-control – although the material background would allow for some generosity. The rest of the executives, who shout irascibly and offend cynically and even believe that they are leading, show with this behavior, above all, their limitations. Better be self-controlled by an appropriate volume.
  • Stay fair
    The traditional incentives for yes-men, the special financial payment for strong conformists, are an expression of unbalanced treatment of employees. This injustice is nowadays even replaced by the friendly shake hands, which enhances its effect by never praising otherwise. It does not take long for the biased distribution of appreciation to be noticed. In this sense, giving preference to somebody reinforces the impression that one has reached its level. Everybody benefits, if you stay fair.
  • Be open
    A special form of injustice happens when the old leadership law is used – Rule 1: The boss is always right; Rule 2: If the boss should not be right, then automatically rule 1 becomes effective. This can lead to absurd incidents: I have clearly expressed myself. Why don’t you understand that? And five minutes later: Nobody can understand this. Why don’t you express yourself more clearly? And eventually, the results suffer Use different viewpoints for the benefit of all.
  • Delegate consistently
    Subsequently, there are also conflicting orders, which lead in any case to a punishment. The motivated employee, who is known everywhere and is working on Project A and Project B, will present one of the projects. Then, In the presentation of project A, arises irritation, why project B is not presented. The same thing happens of course in the opposite case. This dilemma can only be resolved by one. Ensure consistency when you assign tasks to others.
  • Let loose
    That a manager loses over time his sense of work is understandable. The lack of practice results in the fact that all the employees know much more than the supervisor. If the cost estimates made by the employees are not trusted and the plans get simply adjusted, this leads to an unnecessary frustration that creates negative stress. Micro management is one of the most important reasons for distress. As a leader you simply let loose and appreciate whatever outcome.
  • Form follows content
    Unfortunately, the sentence is practiced the other way around. Today, many are faced with a dilemma. The half-life of technical knowledge is three years. This means that after almost ten years, the original lessons learned have only a value of 25% – except: One has continuously learned. As a result, while the content is slowly disappearing, form becomes increasingly important. If the discussion of a concept revolves around the font and the CI, then the conversation partners are certainly on different terrains – even if this would be the moment for a valuable contribution. Support your employees, where they really need it.
  • Do not overload
    It is not a weakness especially of the management not being aware of the delayed effects of measures. Initiatives are launched that often take longer than the leadership needs in order to set-up additional activities. All this portfolio management does not cushion this homemade mess. Order and continuity is not a trait once you reach your level (remember Rule 1 and 2). Remember that your initiatives are finished, before you start to turn the next big wheel.
  • Express yourself clearly
    The communication behavior of executives is critical to success. Communicating clearly the strategy, providing values ​​and supporting employees in their efforts is their actual task. If the employees do not understand their leaders, because there is a strange jargon up there or incomplete statements and vague messages are communicated, then the viability of the company is in peril. A fuzzy way of communicating is not adequate for a leader, but it only proves the indicated inability. Learn the language of your target group and deliver your message in their way.

Bottom line: The neutral look from the outside reveals people who endanger the interaction of the teams. Respectful dealing with each other, balanced involvement with all, no blaming, clear goals, avoidance of additional stress, focus on content, understanding of causes and effects, and a clear language are indicators of the effectiveness of a leader. The ultimate goal is to shift the level of incompetence as much as possible through attentive and competent behavior in order to avoid the Damocles sword.

The glass – the ideal metaphor for a message

The ways to send an idea on its journey are limited to the means of our perception. Usually, we transport the messages through our senses: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, etc. But in order to consolidate into meaning, words can not be avoided. The explanation of a term needs words that in turn need words that … – etc. Thus, a term gradually gets filled with explanations that never clarify everything in the same way to everybody. Messages become cases that can be arbitrarily filled with information. In the same way, a glass can be filled with any arbitrary content. This makes the glass the ideal metaphor for a message.

Above all, new ideas struggle with the fact that they literally lack the linguistic expressions. As a rule, there are three ways to fill a message with target group-oriented content.

The empty glass (The insufficient content)
A statement consists of a limited number of words. This prevents that all words are explained in one sentence. Take a simple sentence like the following.

Free radicals arise as a result of certain processes.

The context could provide an indication that they are not anarchists, who were previously imprisoned and oppose any authority, with influence and reputation, determined by their credibility that affects other people, thereby manipulating, but acquitted in trials. In which a judge might have been presided, who referred to a paragraph ….
The example corresponds to an empty glass that lacks content as long as the context of the aging of organisms is not presented. The interpretation of the sentence is of course determined by the knowledge of the target group. Depending on the area of ​​expertise, lawyers interpret the sentence differently than biologists.
Notable special cases of the empty glass are societies that exchange information with very few words and are convinced that everybody understands the same. An example of this kind of high context culture is Japan. The Ishin-denshin (以 心 伝 心) suggests a similar understanding to the involved people.

The brimming glass (The excessive content)
Some statements are described in such detail that one loses the overview in the process and in the end the actual message.

A certain form of electromagnetic radiation, which specific components are applied as signals on a thin layer to a highly flammable mixture of cellulose nitrate with camphor or on an amorphous substance produced by melting or influences a technical component with certain physical properties, in order to store a copy of the reality on a long-term basis.

This detailed description is a remarkable achievement that gives you an idea of how much the author is trying to explain all aspects of photography. However, this form of description corresponds to the brimming glass that can quickly overflow – which corresponds to the displeasure of the target group. Right?
This analytical approach of conveying a message is more likely in Western countries, in so-called low context cultures. Interestingly, this approach does not create the same understanding among the observers, but quickly leads to confusion.

The half … glass (The content in plain language)
Just as every glass has a normal degree of filling, depending on its content, so too should be conveyed a message with a reasonable degree of filling. It makes no difference whether we speak of half full or half empty glass.

The following 3 examples show why a glass is the perfect picture for a word.

  1. The empty glass delivers an empty catchword without explanations.
  2. The full glass provides the catchword with too many explanations.
  3. The properly filled glass provides the catchword with appropriate explanations.

A word is used to carry a specific content. Although ultimately the recipients decide what they understand, the senders have control over their word choice and the structure of their sentences. Using a simple language increases the likelihood of being better understood. The word choice is determined by the target group.
Within the framework of easy language, certain rules increase the understandability of messages – e.g. short sentences, one expression per sentence, a simple sentence structure, the avoidance of abstract concepts and allusions, as well as foreign words and abbreviations that are explained at the first appearance. The likelihood to be understood goes up.

Bottom line: The glass is a container into which content can be filled. Also messages have a content – the meaning. The use of a certain word is still no guarantee that the right content is present and understood. That’s why you develop a message with more or less explanations. The empty glass symbolizes words and sentences, which are not explained extensively. The full glass is a symbol of the opposite extreme that dilutes the message through too many explanations. The half-full glass symbolizes words that are interpreted depending on the setting. Often, existing phrases are simply filled with new content – just as the meaning of witty in German has changed from knowing, to ingenious, to funny, to strange nowadays. Thus, the message becomes the container in which arbitrary interpretations are filled. The same is valid for a glass. It makes the glass the ideal metaphor for a message.

Meme-It – Make ideas adherent

In the 70s of the last century, we had reached the time for the next level of ‘bits of paper everywhere’. Out of the practical need not to lose bookmarks of his hymnal, Art Fry putted an adhesive on it that could be detached again. This was the birth of a pervasive tool of the information society, the Post-It. Wouldn’t it be great, if there would be similar mechanisms, in order to better anchor ideas in the mind of target groups – a Meme-it that makes ideas adherent.


In the last century people thought about, how to promote the spreading of ideas. In the Twenties scientists such as Harold D. Lasswell worked on how one could affect human acts through the manipulation of spoken or written language, pictures and music. After all branches exploited the possibilities of PR and marketing as well as new channels are established for conveying contents due to the global networking, viral marketing, sometimes also called guerilla marketing, promises a new, economical approach for the spreading of ideas and concepts. The object that is thereby quasi-automatically spreading across the World Wide Web and the minds of people is called Meme or recently Memeome. Memes are contents that people causally create and think – or how it expresses M. Csikszentmihalyi “any permanent pattern of matter or information produced by an act of human intentionality”. In order to anchor ideas in the consciousness of many people, it is helpful to be aware, how this Meme is composed.

Let’s imagine Meme like a virus that nests in a host cell, multiplies continuously and is transferred to other hosts. The infection is enabled by the structure of the Meme.

Meme consists of three layers, which have on each level a certain function – the contents, the actual idea in the core, the aura that integrates the content into the mental model of each individual and the sphere, which establishes the contact with the environment.

  • Content
    The meme content is the actual meaning that is reduced to minimum. Here the actual statement, i.e. an idea, a topic, a draft, a plan or an established practice, are represented in a compact way. If we describe the core of a knife, then it is a tool for cutting, a sharp thing that splits all possible fabrics or materials.
  • Aura
    The Meme aura extends the content with linked ideas, like e.g. relations to contents, irresistible attractions and other commonalities, which make it easier to dock on existing mental models. Thus, the medical setting offers an associative, emotional and positive framework to look at a knife, or in this context, at a scalpel. That way the Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the special sharpness and the function to save life’s, becomes an interesting thing for many people.
  • Sphere
    The Meme sphere is the meaning context, in which the Meme have an effect and makes contact with the environment. The spreading is favored by this shell, since it is the interface to the environment and to other ideas. Most know a scalpel through personal experience or indirectly by hearsay. The fear of sickness and hope for being healed by surgery creates attention. The example of the scalpel can be traced back up to the times of ancient cultures, which already operated with a sharp artefact.

According to the example of a knife there is in information that we would like to disseminate, content as well as the layers of the aura and the sphere. The conscious arrangement of these layers creates messages that are finding their way, since after a successful infection by the Meme hosts they are spread through word of mouth, publications and repeating implementation.

Bottom line: With Meme-it, you design virulent ideas, topics, scheme, plans and practices in a simple manner. That way your messages are provided with an “adhesive” that on the one hand settles in the mind of the target groups and on the other hand is transmitted. The sales-oriented expenditure for bringing the Meme across the Tipping Point, is substantially smaller, than the classical marketing activity. In this sense, make you your ideas adherent! Meme it!

==> Memefication

==> Meaning design

The content – the second gateway into the mind of the audience

It is a long way to transfer thoughts out of the void into a consistent concept. The coherence of the aspects is insufficient to convey it to the audience. With the right understanding of the traits and features of the interest group, you can introduce contents more clearly. The content is thereby the second gateway into the mind of the audience.


The following aspects make contents more understandable and effective.

  • Goal
    An elaborated concept contains many specifics. The list of details provides meaningful insights only to a few people. Therefore it is favorable to define a goal that you intend to reach with the contents – to convey an overview; to describe a certain area; to create curiosity for a topic. A presentation or a text with a clear goal facilitates better contents for a broad group of people.
  • Target group reference
    Considering the target group characteristics provides a framework for the preparation of contents. Experts are used to navigate through a huge amount of information with table of contents or indexes, in order to get to useful contents. Non-experts need a simple structure and a comprehensible storyline that is not hidden behind technical terms. For this reason you need a concrete idea of the required information of the target group – Which interests exist? On which level of detail? Technical or easy to understand? Objective or emotional? The addressees better understand the message with the appropriate “flight height”.
  • Core message
    With the clear goal and the audience in mind the question about the core messages that you would like to convey arises. In any case you should limit yourself to 5plusminus2 messages, because it will be even difficult for experts to process more chunks. The contents are formulated around these messages. They provide several aspects – the purpose of the message (e.g. conveying facts, requesting something, expressing the own emotions) and the core elements of the message (e.g. objects, procedures, insights). Eventually, the audience can only remember those aspects that they are able to understand and process.
  • Facts and opinions
    Some information is generally well-known and verifiable. These are the facts. Other information is subjective and cannot be proven, but you are convinced of it. These are the opinions. The target group might believe these opinions or not. It is important to clearly differentiate between facts and opinions. Thus, the probability increases that the desired aspects stick to the target group, whether these are facts or opinions.
  • Procedure
    The individual data is not hanging timeless in the space. There is always a logical sequence – the discovery process or the dramatic composition of the story. The explicit description of these aspects enables the audience to better understand the contents and to better remember them. If you would like to create confusion or to produce suspense, it is helpful to create spontaneous, unforeseeable time leaps. It is better for the transfer of knowledge to follow the natural development of the topic, since that way the target group can better remember contents.
  • Outcomes
    The outcomes that were compiled are particularly The more concrete and useful the results are, the easier the attendants internalize the contents. In the end the drawn conclusions, the actual experiences and results are a principal reason for the audience to admit the contents.

Bottom line: Contents are better processed by the target group with the elements above. Discussions get the relevant information in order to get to a productive discourse. At the same time the target audience can better remember contents. Thus, the content is the second gateway into the mind of the audience.