This week’s focus: A few months ago a partner from a national firm of solicitors called to ask if I’d speak at an event he was organizing. Apparently, a fellow partner I had met at their Nottingham office had recommended me. He sent me some details and told me that it was being held just down the road from their office.

On Tuesday I had a morning meeting in Amsterdam and flew back into Birmingham in good time for the drive back to Nottingham. However, after parking at the solicitors’ offices I couldn’t find the address he had mentioned and so called partner.

As he tried to explain the route – naming roads that didn’t correspond to the street signs I was looking at – I had sudden realization and a sinking feeling. “What city are you in?” I asked. “Birmingham,” he replied, a little confused. I quickly jumped back into my car and drove back to Birmingham, arriving at the event just 10 minutes after my scheduled time.

Many errors and cock-ups are caused not by a lack of communication, but by insufficiently clear communication. It’s amazing how different people interpret the same event differently, as the Barclays LIBOR scandal has highlighted. Assumptions and pre-conceptions speak louder than words.

How do you ensure that the objectives you set your team are both clear and understood, and are able to cut-through the noise of assumptions, beliefs and pre-conceptions?

Off The Record: Road To Nowhere by Talking Heads

Well, we know where we’re going, but we don’t know where we’ve been

And we know what we’re knowing, but we can’t say what we’ve seen

We’re on a road to nowhere, come on inside!

© Stuart Cross 2012. All rights reserved.