Beyond the Babble: Leadership Communication That Drives Results

( 1 )


Beyond the Babble

The CEO takes the podium and begins to speak. It's a polishedpresentation and he looks impressive. As he talks, people nod theirheads in apparent agreement, but after the applause dies down thepainful truth is revealed. His message didn't get across. It wasall just so much babble. What went wrong?

In Beyond the Babble, Bob Matha and Macy Boehm offer a strategicplan for addressing one of the most difficult challenges ...

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Beyond the Babble

The CEO takes the podium and begins to speak. It's a polishedpresentation and he looks impressive. As he talks, people nod theirheads in apparent agreement, but after the applause dies down thepainful truth is revealed. His message didn't get across. It wasall just so much babble. What went wrong?

In Beyond the Babble, Bob Matha and Macy Boehm offer a strategicplan for addressing one of the most difficult challenges anybusiness leader can face: engaging employees to take action.Written for all those who lead groups—including supervisors,managers, HR and communications professionals, executives, andCEOs—this practical resource describes how to put in placeproven communication principles that do just that. Matha andBoehm's On Strategy communication plan focuses on one criticalemployee question: What do you want me to do? And it gives leadersthe tools they need to mobilize a team of ten or an organization ofthousands.

Designed to get business results by improving communications,Matha and Boehm's three-step On Strategy approach shows how to

  • Clarify direction to the organization and make it relevant toemployees
  • Prepare leadership—from top to bottom—to deliverdirection and engage employees
  • Communicate to the larger organization about strategy through anongoing "conversation" with and among employees

Filled with real-life examples from such well-knownorganizations as Ford Motor Company, BP, General Motors, HomeDepot, NASA, and many others, Beyond the Babble explores thecritical role communication plays in driving performance, how toleverage it, and how best to measure results.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470200483
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/7/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 579,753
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Matha and Macy Boehm are principals and cofounders of Basics 3, a leadership communications and employee engagement firm headquartered in Chicago, and they also provide counsel to clients of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. Matha and Boehm have applied fifteen years of experience to develop the philosophy, processes, and techniques outlined in Beyond the Babble, and they have been featured speakers at the Arthur Page Society and the Advanced Learning Institute. In addition, Matha serves on DePaul University's College of Communication Dean's Advisory Council.

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Table of Contents


The Authors.



1. The Power of Communication.

On Strategy Communication Cuts Through Babble.

Effective Communication Gets Results.

Why Communication Makes a Difference.


2. On Strategy Communication: An Overview.

The Action Equation.

The People Channel.


3. Do: What Do You Need Employees to Do?

The Elements of On Strategy Direction.

Setting a Clear Path for the Land of Oz.


4. Know: What Do Employees Need to Know to Take Action?

They Need to Know Why.

Who Needs to Know?

The Land of Oz Knows.


5. Feel: What Do Employees Need to Feel to Take Action?

Be an Organizational Psychologist.

Getting the Insights You Need.

The Land of Oz Gets Emotional.


6. The "Why Nots": What’s Getting in the Way?

The Behavior Chain.

Addressing a "Why Not".

Be an Organizational Archeologist.

The Land of Oz Confronts Its Demons.


7. Package: Turn the Action Equation into a Conversation.

Conversations Are "In the Moment".

The Memory Issue.

The Conversation Platform.

The Land of Oz Gets Ready to Roll.

When Issues Are the Issue.


8. Align: Make Sure All Leaders Are On Strategy.

Don’t Be Fooled.

Start at the Top and Work to the Front Line.

Promote Open Discussion at Multiple Levels.

Include Informal Leaders in the People Channel.


9. Equip: Give Leaders the Tools They Need to Communicate OnStrategy.

Train Leaders as if Strategy Depended on It.

Support Local Leaders and the People Channel.

Recognize and Strengthen the Weak Links.

Complementary Leader Assignments.


10. Drive and Support: Orchestrate and Sustain On StrategyConversation.

Create a Drumbeat.

Maximize All the Vehicles Available.

The Conversation Platform as a Filter and Focus.

To Raise the Volume, Run a Campaign.

How Communication (the Function) Can Help.


11. You: The Top Leader’s Role.

Expect a Lot.


Reward, Recognize, and Hold Accountable.


Lead by Example.

12. "How to" Resource Guide.

Conducting Discussion Groups.

The Memory Game.

Alignment Interviews and Snapshot.

The Consider-Dialogue-Solve Process.

Conducting a "Red Face" Test.

Identifying Informal Leaders.

Selecting Vehicles: Opportunities Abound.

Glossary of Terms.



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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2008

    Worthwhile Advice for Anyone with Employees, Corporate or Small Business

    First off, some full disclosure: I¿m a neighbor to one of the authors our kids have played together, and we¿ve socialized as couples and families. I do not, however, have any financial or professional connection to her¿I teach in the first-year writing programs at two Chicago universities, though I occasionally teach business and professional writing courses¿and am more inclined to read books that address the interests of workers rather than management. That said: Beyond the Babble really is quite a well-crafted book, and presents a compelling argument that corporate leaders should reconsider their approach to management- employee communications. Matha and Boehm call for a focus on action that they reinforce at the levels of structure and language. In the second chapter, they describe ¿the Action Equation¿ by arguing that ¿a leader [starts by] determining exactly what he or she wants the organization to accomplish and . . . what employees need to do to make it happen¿ '27'. 'In this sense, they begin by calling their readers¿ attention to the fundamental concerns of writing and rhetoric: the need to focus on ¿audience¿ and ¿aim¿ or purpose.' At the same time, they reinforce this emphasize on ¿doing¿ by assigning titles to their chapters based on the action those chapters discuss¿¿Do,¿ ¿Know,¿ ¿Feel,¿ ¿Align,¿ ¿Equip¿ and the like. They also organize their lists of tips and strategies according to the action on which each bulleted item is based¿e.g., ¿clarify direction¿ and ¿prepare leadership to deliver¿ and ¿communicate to the larger organization about . . . .¿ 'This is a fundamental principle for writing resumes, too, and it works equally well here.' They have also taken care to keep the book reader- friendly. Their section headers make for efficient reading and effective retention of content their use of what I¿ll call ¿aphorism boxes¿ 'short quotes that are highlighted in bold and presented in a sidebar' enables them to emphasize a crucial point on a particular page and their occasional 'but successful' use of charts and tables provide supporting data and interesting visuals. 'The graphic for the ¿Behavior Chain¿ on p. 94 works remarkably well, in part because it allows for an easy comparison between the kinds of behaviors managers would want and the kind that they¿re likely to get.' All that said, I will admit that the authors could do more to advance their argument. As a reader and an educator, I would like to see them address the now-ubiquitous question of ¿how New Media can or should play a role in effective corporate communication.¿ Yes, that question is sometimes asked simply as a matter of course but, given the role of technology-mediated communication in everyday 'much less corporate' life, I can¿t help but wonder how e-mails and texts and video-enhanced real- time communications and the like can serve the interests of Matha and Boehm¿s work. I also wonder if they could broaden their audience a bit, perhaps to include the communication needs of smaller businesses. While such businesses might not fit the client-model for Basic 3¿s consulting practice, they would certainly fit the audience- model of potential readers for this book. Those concerns, however, can easily be addressed in later editions or follow-up books¿and it¿s clear that Matha and Boehm have more than one book in them 'and much more to offer the business community, corporate and otherwise'. The next time I teach the senior-level ¿writing in the professions¿ course, I¿ll seriously consider using this text with my students¿and will also, of course, recommend it to my colleagues in business and communications programs.

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