Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


January 2008
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Archive for January 14th, 2008

How much is too much?

Information, that is. We’ve all struggled with this one and usually lost. At least from our customer’s perspective. We spend days and weeks agonizing over how we will gather and present information on everything from area demographics to lists of available sites and buildings.

All good info but where do you stop? The curse of the so-called information age is that there’s so darned much of it. So let’s just impress the heck out of our client by giving them everything we’ve got. Ouch. Wrong answer.

I’d like to say I’ve never done anything like that but the people who know me would tell you the truth if I’d try to fly that one by you. In fact, a number of years ago I was on a call trip to a regional metro area and had assembled a formidable packet of information that I was intent on delivering to anyone who let me in their door. My partner on the trip joked that I would be better off just hitting them over the head with the packet and then dragging them back to my area. At least I think he was joking.

Ok, lesson learned. At least I hope so. We found that sticking to the basics was more fruitful (and less intimidating). The challenge became figuring out what were ‘the basics.’ One of the things that surprises people most when they develop promotional materials (or presentations of any type) is that it takes much longer to prepare a brief message than it does to prepare a long one. Maybe that’s why most economic development materials are so long. No one took enough time to make them shorter…..and better.

I was just looking at a presentation on Rowan Manahan’s “Fortify your Oasis” blog that ended with a simple slide showing Albert Einstein and this quote, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Could it be that we spend too much time gathering information and not enough time trying to understanding it?