FINESSE is a cause-and-effect approach for effective communication when there are lots of complexity and uncertainty. FINESSE stands for Frame, Illustrate, Noise, Empathy, Structure, Synergy, and Ethics. After working as part of the not-for-profit Communicating with FINESSE team for over a year, these are some of my major observations for each bone of the FINESSE fishbone diagram.
As the saying goes, “A problem well-framed is a problem half solved." Decision makers like to change the frame when they don't get what they want, so framing also involves tying it down.
Observation: It is not usually appreciated in advance, but documenting the frame in writing pays off.
Illustrate is about the graphics and visuals we use. There are a handful of essential visuals and a handful of troublesome (but common) ones.
Observation: There is a big difference in information and decorative visuals. The information ones count the most.
Noise makes your data and information dirty. You must clean it before giving it to someone else. The burden of effective communication is on the sender, not the receiver.
Observation: Many knowledge professionals firmly believe the receiver (senior management) is to blame if their message is misunderstood.
Being able to put yourself in the decision maker's shoes is the essence of empathy. The FINESSE chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and the empathy link is a big one.
Observation: Most people want to talk about their hard work, even though the decision maker does not care.
Structure usually consists of an opening, the main body, and a close. The trick is that decision makers may only see the first act (the opening).
Observation: Most technical professionals do not spend enough time creating a powerful opening and closing.
Synergy is the group of inner-circle advisors that all big decisions must move through. Synergy recognizes that big decisions require multiple presentations. Group effects can hurt you or help you.
Observation: Group effects rule!
Ethics are the way we make decisions. There are three major types.
Observation: It is too easy to call someone unethical who disagrees with you.
FINESSE stands for Frame, Illustrate, Noise, Empathy, Structure, Synergy, and Ethics. FINESSE is a powerful communication approach, and the FINESSE fishbone (cause-and-effect) diagram is a powerful tool. Hopefully, these observations will help you to be a more effective communicator.