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CLOSER TO BETTER Monday, 1 October 2012


It seemed a rather curious thing to say when asked “How are you doing?”

“We’re getting closer to better thank you!” and it set me wondering.

Closer than who? Better than what? I wasn’t left with an impression that the gentleman knew the answer to either question and he wasn’t pursued by his inquirer who may well have been asking himself those very questions. The conversation ended shortly after this and I suspect without much thought returning to the matter.

Was this an attempt to rid himself of an inquisitive mind, to sidestep the real issue of detail or was this quite simply an honest response from somebody who not only knew what ‘better’ was but also knew the steps involved to get him ‘closer’ to that better.

The reason I started wondering was because I come across this type of communication often, I see the somewhat bemused look on the face of the enquirer, the frowning squint as if checking for clarity, ready to ask further then remembering they work together! Shouldn’t everyone understand the company goals? Shouldn’t better be understood and wouldn’t closer be obvious then?

I would never advocate the use of such language in business, it is far too vague, carries too much omission and assumption likely to end up making the proverbial ass of someone.

And so the moment passed, one without the detail and one just pleased that the awkward moment had passed. Far better to have said “I am two thirds of the way to hitting my target of 200 sales by the month end” or “we are only 40% of the way toward our target of £60,000 this month and we have just 2 weeks left” It lets everyone, yes including people like me who overhear, know exactly what the state of play is.

Smart goals were the buzz of business, still are in many environments but it is necessary to go beyond being smart and learn to be clever, you need to live the goals, be able to see, hear and feel what achieving them will get you.  Smart won’t help you on its own.

“Closer to better” belongs in a ‘Winnie the pooh’ story, not in business. So the next time you hear such a response as “we are getting closer to better” rise above being smart and ask “How so, tell me more” or “How will you know when we’re better”

“You are braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
And smarter than you think” ―
A.A. Milne

And if I don’t know what you believe, I’ll never know how strong you seem and you will remain as smart as you think you are and no more.  F.Smethers