Practical Process: Speaking “Boardish”–A Fab Way to Communicate with Strategic and Effective Executive Decision-Makers

I've spent a lot of time talking to senior people in many different organizations about the joys of process. Some see the idea and the benefits immediately. Some will never get it. Others, the majority, are waiting to be convinced and that is only going to happen if we are talking the same language.

We need to speak Boardish, the language of the C-suite.

As practicing process enthusiasts, we too often forget that our message needs to be translated effectively—and Google Translate is not going to help.

Making FAB Statements—the FAB Four

I'm late discovering the formal method of Features-Advantages-Benefits (FAB) Statements, and you may be way ahead of me, but I'm finding them a useful way to shape our process-based management messages.

FAB statement development also puts the challenge to the practitioner to justify enthusiasm with proven, valued, business benefits.

A FAB statement is a structured way of discovering and describing a feature, what that feature does (the advantage), and how that provides a benefit.

Features first. These are straightforward and easy to define as they are just the facts about the idea, service, or development. For example, “Effective Office of BPM implemented and operational“.

Advantages are what the feature does or delivers. Just the factual consequences—we'll get to the benefits next. For example, staying with our Office of BPM example, “Able to support all staff, provide expert advice and coaching, raise capability, and monitor standards compliance.”

Benefits say why the advantage has value. This is where we connect the factual statements with a solution to a business problem. For example, “All staff are able to contribute to improved organizational performance.”

Then the FAB statements are used to create the set of marketing messages that will resonate with the target audience—the Boardish translation of practitioner enthusiasm into outcomes that are recognized and valued by senior decision makers.

This is done by first reversing the FAB order. State the benefit first and then explain how that is achieved (through the advantage and feature). In our Office BPM example one statement might be “Optimum process performance improvement is discovered, delivered, and sustained through enhanced capabilities of people working in the process using standard techniques and transferable skills.”

Process-based management in Boardish

FAB statements will often be particular to the organization in question as they will reflect specific strategic and operational circumstances. Some further general examples are presented below.

SpeakingBoardish_fig1

Speaking Boardish

When we use the FAB statement method executive decisions about adopting process-based management can be made in the context of their impact on the key strategic and operational business issues, with clear understanding of the benefits available and the actions required to realize them.

[BTW that previous sentence is another example of a FAB statement!]

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Roger Tregear

Roger Tregear

As the Principal Advisor with TregearBPM (www.tregearbpm.com), Roger Tregear delivers BPM courses and consulting assignments around the world. Roger spends his working life talking, consulting, thinking, and writing about analysis, improvement, innovation, and management of business processes. His work with clients is in organizational performance improvement and problem solving based on BPM capability development, and business process, analysis, improvement, and management. He helps small and large organizations understand the potential, and realize the practical benefits, of process-based management. Roger is the author of the book Reimagining Management. Contact Roger on +61 (0)419 220 280 or at roger@tregearbpm.com.
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