Philosophies are for philosophers, theories are for academics, and approaches are for practitioners. That’s why when I go into an industrial plant, I ask the maintenance supervisor about their maintenance approaches, not their theories on maintenance. And the same can be said with business leaders. When I talk to executives, I don’t ask about their philosophy on running their business. I ask them to describe their approaches to running their business.
FINESSE as a Communication Approach
FINESSE is a cause-and-effect approach for effective communication with high levels of complexity and uncertainty. Said another way, FINESSE is an approach used for big, strategic decisions that take months or years to make. FINESSE facilitates the memory of effective communication: Frame, Illustrate, Noise, Empathy, Structure, Synergy, and Ethics.
Don’t Use FINESSE if…
Major decisions that take months to resolve, require significant investment, and involve many people (and some calculations) have complexity and uncertainty. These are the situations where trusted advisors need FINESSE.
- Emergency response communications do not require FINESSE. People are looking to return to normal as quickly as possible. A short-term communication approach is needed; FINESSE applies to the longer-term decision making that is required after the initial recovery.
- Daily operating decisions do not require FINESSE. Tens or hundreds of decisions are required each day. There is no time for developing visuals, debating calculations, or analyzing the audience. The timeline is short. Experience rules the day,
- FINESSE is unnecessary if you prefer a different approach to communicating to decision makers for strategic decisions with lots of complexity and uncertainty.
Approach versus Tips
Tips are the smaller components or recommendations that fit into a larger strategy or approach. For instance, if the approach is to improve time management, various tips like prioritizing tasks, using to-do lists, or minimizing distractions can be part of that approach.
The approach influences which tips are relevant or applicable in a given context.
Resist any advice from people who will only give you tips. Ask for their approach first. Then, let them give you their tips if you agree with their approach.
The Big Takeaway
The big takeaway is this all the tips in the world do not make sense unless you have that overarching approach. Find the appropriate approach for the given situation, then consider applicable tips.
FINESSE is one such approach for effective communication. Hopefully, you will like FINESSE for big decisions when complexity and uncertainty are high. But if you don’t like FINESSE, find and apply another.
Communicating with FINESSE
Be careful not to confuse a collection of tips as an approach. As leaders, we are judged by our assessment of a situation and our chosen approach.
FINESSE is a cause-and-effect approach based on systems thinking. If you have a better approach for your context, then use it. If not, remember that Communicating with FINESSE is never wrong.
Communicating with FINESSE is a not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.
JD Solomon is the author of Communicating Reliability, Risk & Resiliency to Decision Makers: How to Get Your Boss’s Boss to Understand and Facilitating with FINESSE: A Guide to Successful Business Solutions. JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for facilitation, asset management, and program development at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment.