You can not communicate something clearly if you don't understand it in the first place. And in order to understand something clearly you need to ask a lot of questions and accept the reality you may find. Achieving clarity is, in a way, an exercise in sincerity.
The problem with truth is it makes some people uncomfortable. This explains why vague statements show up to save the day. Think about the business people or politicians who can answer any question, even if they have no idea what they are talking about. Ambiguity saves face.
There comes a point in the life of a business when communication becomes a key issue. At uberVU I felt it many, many times. I am writing specs for a feature and something else gets built. I am trying to make the team aware of something, and weeks later I realize they understood something else. The bigger the team the bigger the problem.
It's a problem I see more and more since I became aware of it. It's everywhere. Like a plague. And the way the problem usually gets solved is by:
- Adding more layers of management:"Let's put more people in charge ..."
- Creating more systems: "More meetings ... more software etc."
This approach however is treating the symptoms not the cause. The cause in most cases is lack of clarity. My lack of clarity. Or yours. If we would all communicate more clearly, then maybe we wouldn't need to add layers of management and additional complexity.