Don’t assume the obvious is obvious


I seem to have my best thoughts when I am travelling. Maybe the change of scenery helps to shift my BAU (business as usual) thinking and tap into something more creative. The escape from normal routine seems to allow me to explore and think differently. Note to self to explore that more often!

I’ve been talking with my business coach recently about what I know – my expertise, in other words. I keep getting roadblocks in my thinking about how to help others, how to write a blog or how to prepare a piece of teaching or learning. A big part of the problem is I feel like I have nothing new, interesting or worthwhile to say – that I’m just pointing out the obvious and teaching my audience how to suck eggs, as they say. But it appears I make assumptions that my obvious is obvious to everyone. Wrong!

So I wrote down a list of 52 statements about the fundamentals of accounting, bookkeeping and general finance insights. It turns out the things I thought were obvious aren’t so obvious to everyone.

When I am talking to professional connections I hear the same themes over and over: ‘I don’t have anything to say’; ‘people must already know that’;  ‘why should they listen to me?’

My response is always the same: you need to simplify your IP; your message. At the level you are talking you will lose 75 per cent of your audience, as you have wrongly assumed a certain level of knowledge. That’s not to say others are clueless; it’s just they may not have thought about things in the same way.

As an example, in the top five of my 52 statements is the need to forecast for your business or career – that is, plan how you think the next 12 months will play out. To me, this is obvious. It’s my ‘bread and butter’ to make a plan, to have a strategy, blah blah blah …

For many others, though, forecasting is ‘pie in the sky’ stuff that wastes time they could be spending on just getting on with it. But here’s the thing – without a forecast, how can you plan for growth? How would you know if you have any gaps in your year where you need to forward sell so you and the team hit 80 per cent utilisation? In short, without a plan you have no business. I get we all need to be agile, of course. But agility, to me, means having a plan and being ready to pivot on that plan if the market or circumstances change.

Can you write down 52 statements about what you know in your area of expertise? Go on, have a go – give yourself 15 minutes. It’s just a shopping list of statements that you know. You don’t have to explain or expand on them at this stage – that’s what you do when you look at them and realise they may not be obvious to everyone in your target audience and that these people may want to hear more. That’s also when you realise you have 52 weeks of blog topics covered …


Paula Kensington

Paula Kensington is the new LBD CEO and an award-winning CFO and finance, futurist. She is passionate about people, planning and possibilities. Paula is available for keynote presentations and conferences. She also loves talking to employee groups, in town hall style meetings or smaller talent pools, where her experience and passion for the future helps to alleviate anxiety in the workplace, at all levels of an organisation.

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