Be Prepared to Be Lean and Be Rid of Wasteful Words

Brief executives have a low tolerance for wasteful words and unprepared reports. They embrace lean principles in all of their communications.

A very good example of a lean executive is Dan Ariens, chief executive officer of Ariens Company, a lawn and snow blower manufacturer. He introduced lean principles in every process of the company, from their machines to their administrative processes, summarizing them in one page. Each sheet of paper includes a simple picture, up to 10 explanatory steps, and a few comments.

That is it.

His company embraced the practices of Lean Six Sigma which resulted in eliminating waste in organizations. Ariens applies lean principles to internal communication as well.

“In my office, I have a single page for each strategic initiative. It states the strategy, its reason, and its purpose—and it should be only a sentence or two.”

Ariens, just like other lean executives, has a low tolerance for wasteful words and unprepared meetings. He can tell whether someone is unprepared within the opening paragraph or sentence.

“It’s really about giving concise and consistent instructions or working on a problem in a focused manner.”

Unprepared People Use Wasteful Words

Dan Ariens identified two mistakes that cause meetings to be longer than needed:

People are insecure about their position. “If people are insecure about their position, they keep searching for the answer as they’re talking.”
You’re probably familiar with this behavior, too. You are in a meeting and the speaker looks for people who will give him their approval. They talk and talk until someone nods their head and agrees with what he’s saying.

A confident person, however, will get to the point in the first few minutes of the meeting.

Office politics.“People want to make sure the layers of management hear them. They think they will sway opinions and take a leadership position because they own the floor.”
Busy executives most valuable asset is time. They want their subordinates to understand and value their time.

Don’t call for a meeting if what you need to say can be done in a short email. Be mindful of everyone’s time, but especially of that of your executives and drive out wasteful words. Learn to be lean and brief in your communications.


Want to know more about being brief? Check out The Brief Practitioner, an online course from The Brief Lab that teaches executives how to avoid information overload and become lean, effective leaders and communicators.


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