What communicators can learn from start-ups: paper folding segmentation

ByMichael Ambjorn

What communicators can learn from start-ups: paper folding segmentation

This week I’ve been at #SLUSH15 – an event that brings together 15,000 people interested in start-ups: entrepreneurs, investors, academics and of course the raw talent who power it all.

Here’s one of the things I took away – advice given to start-ups, but just as applicable to communicators operating at the strategic advisor level:

Paper folding segmentation

‘Impossible is nothing’ said Muhammad Ali – and whilst that is true, he did take a rather meticulous approach.

The same goes for start-ups (and communicators) who succeed: they don’t try their luck across all the weight classes.

They pick their fights carefully.

The first step? Segmentation.

Kim Väisänen

Kim Väisänen

Kim Väisänen brilliantly brought this to life with a visual shorthand: and no, I’m not talking about boxing gloves. Rather, something you’ll most likely have to hand: a plain sheet of paper.

From Wikipedia: A size chart illustrating the ISO A series and a comparison with American letter and legal formats

From Wikipedia: A size chart illustrating the ISO A series and a comparison with American letter and legal formats

Now just imagine that piece of paper is the whole world.

Tempting, yet hopefully obvious that you can’t address all of it.

Kim’s advice? Keep folding until you have enough specificity to make it meaningful – but also realise that you can’t fold infinitely.

The average piece of paper can only be folded 7-8 times.

If you want to geek out on more on start-up advice – including Rachleff’s Law of Start-up Success, then there’s a useful write-up here. For those just starting out, this simple ‘business plan basics’ Prezi which I’ve taken on the road in the past may also be useful.

Or, if you simply want to prove that you’re a world class communicator who knows how to target what you do… the time is now to enter the 2015 Gold Quills.

 

2015 Gold Quill - IMAGINE

Share your good practice: let’s #createconnection like never before.

Michael Ambjorn

 

About the author

Michael Ambjorn administrator

Michael is a past chair of the International Association of Business Communicators. He is also founder of Align Your Org where – with a participation-centric approach – he and his colleagues enable effective strategic planning, communication – and clarity of execution. He has held leadership roles at IBM, Motorola and the 260–year–old Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. A consummate connector, speaker, facilitator - and mentor - he is also active in a number of further networks. You can follow him @michaelambjorn

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