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Lacks subtlety -- these techniques could rebound on you
on 6 July 2013
The Snowball Effect works from the premise that communication is designed to cause something to happen. From this basis, Andy Bounds takes you through a breathless set of techniques for making presentations, writing letters, taking interviews, and many other one-to-one and one-to-some workplace situations. If the people you are trying to persuade respond well to this kind of approach, and outcomes-based communication is something you haven't tried before, then this book may help you a lot. On the other hand, if your audience is sophisticated and has encountered these techniques before, it may do more harm than good.
Of the four elements of outcomes-based communication -- outcomes, audiences, messages, and delivery -- Andy Bounds is very good on outcomes. This insight on its own is enough to lift business communication for many people who find they are naturally good at some things, but fare badly in others. Everyone knows, for example, that the purpose of a job interview is to get a job, but very few people seem to know what the purpose of a presentation is. At least, like Andy Bounds, I've sat through many which leave me wondering 'what do they want me to do?'
Essentially, this book is about making your communication more outcomes focussed.
In as far as it goes, this is a good thing. However, Bounds's 'wallop' method (for getting senior people to agree to things when you don't have much time) may be far too unsubtle for a lot of senior people. Although some Boards will jump when you demonstrate the dangers of a significant problem which has not occurred to anyone before, others will be wise enough to spot that, just because you've identified the problem, it doesn't mean that your solution is the right one. Worse, unless you know a very great deal about the people you are communicating with, it may be that the problem you are identifying is common knowledge already.
If these techniques either left you ahead or where you were, I wouldn't really have a quarrel with them. However, the very direct, directive approach may close doors for you which subtlety and a better understanding of who you are talking to would have kept open. If your tendency is to beat around the bush too much, then this book will help you. If you are already at times over-assertive, it could be leading you down the wrong paths.