Concept Papers - thoughts and ideas, some whimsical, others serious, as catalysts for Bridges white papers.
Ten subjects are listed on the subpages. These range from aspects of strategy history to a website primer. Submissions on other topics with a direct bearing on strategy and tactics are also welcome.
Writing Guidelines - Above All Else - Simplicity
A lot of this website has dense writing, difficult and wordy. Taking a simple concept and making it complicated is easy.
“In my opinion it is not unwarranted to draw the following conclusion from a proper concatenation of deliberations, viz. that A indubitably exhibits innumerably more superior, highly desirable characteristics than B." = “I think A is better than B."
The reverse, distilling the difficult down to its essence, is not so easy. However precisely that is what the website needs – more simplicity. Therefore our overriding editorial guideline is the English teacher’s timeworn admonishment: KISS (“keep it simple, stupid”). For instance, Kenichi Ohmae, the Japanese strategy guru with a PhD in nuclear physics from M.I.T., wrote one of the all time classics in business strategy, The Mind of a Corporate Strategist. It is in very plain, simple English, with nary an equation in sight.
Another example is Richard Nelson Bolles classic What Color is Your Parachute, a job hunting and career changing guide, with 10 million copies sold. He was educated in physics and chemistry at M.I.T. and Harvard before becoming a pastor. He writes in the preface about two indices for "grade reading level" with which his book has been examined. The first one, in England, said the book was at the 6th grade level. The second, an American index, said the book was at the 8th grade level.
He adds "Sixth or eighth grade -- that seems just about right to me. Why make job hunting complicated, when it can be expressed so simply, even a child could understand it?" The same applies to strategy, of course.
The extreme examples of simplicity for business books are those by a physician at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo clinic, Dr. Spencer Johnson. He wrote The One Minute Manager and Who Moved My Cheese. His half-dozen short books (each less than 100 pages) have been translated into 26 languages and sold over 11 million copies.
An advertising credo in the U.S. is "Sex sells." For business books one may add "Simple sells." The concepts, the story line, can be complicated, but they should be presented with crystal clear clarity. The writing itself should be simple, e.g. Harry Potter’s popularity with adult readers. The total sales since 1997 of the Potter series of seven books in various languages were estimated in 2009 at over 400 million copies. Would be contributors, take note!
Man's inhumanity to man must cease. One small distaff step in support of women's liberation is the proper use of pronouns, suffixes, affixes and, of course, nouns. Speaking of which, let us make that first phrase politically correct. Women can also be inhumane, no?
First attempt: Men and women's inhumanity to men and women must cease. However this "improvement" now has five masculine morphemes, even worse than the original sentence's three.
Second attempt: Human beings inhumanity to human beings must cease. This sentence at least does not emphasize men, although it still has three of the unacceptable male morphemes. Let us change all these "mans" to the less objectional, more neutral double-morpheme, "person."
Third attempt: Huperson beings inhupersonity to huperson beings must cease. Definately getting better, but "son" is still masculine. The sentence still has three unacceptable male morphemes. Let us change these weak "sons" to the power double-morpheme, "daughter."
Fourth attempt: Huperdaughter's inhuperdaughterity to huperdaughters must cease.Now there we have a proper, politically correct statement. You now know the system. Be sure to follow it religiously, not just for submissions to Bridges, but for all of your writing, from a casual E-Mail to a graduate textbook. Your readers will appreciate your moving with the times.