Wake up and smell the coffee



In 2018, I was standing in line at one of my favourite coffee shops, desperately needing my final caffeine fix for the day to power through my last two meetings.  It had been a busy week, and I was eager to head home to my family. 

My thoughts were all over the place. But one nagging question kept popping up: why do business leaders overcomplicate their communication? And then wonder why they must waste time repeating themselves because staff and customers don’t understand them. 

This thought was triggered by a meeting I had earlier in the week. My client, an exec from a financial services company, needed my help to explain one of their products simply. In our discussion, she showed me how another company assisted in mapping out their company’s strategy.

It was a series of tables and diagrams that required a PhD to decipher. I was impressed with their thinking but not with how they packaged it. There was no way their staff would understand the strategy, never mind execute it.

I’ve seen this movie on repeat over the lifespan of my business (and yes, I’ve even played a starring role). The recurring problem? A communication gap between the leaders who create the strategy and the people who must execute it.


Leaders tend to dismiss that we live in a world overloaded with information. Human attention is today’s most valuable and sought-after resource because people are distracted. And comprehension levels are at an all-time low.

This means that the gap between understanding and execution continues to widen, hampering a company’s ability to grow. I see this happening at the large corporates I serve. Staff perform their tasks without knowing how everything hangs together. Because they only get content without any context. And context is more than why something is happening. It’s also how one thing affects the other. It’s the bigger picture.

Here’s the sad reality: 90% of staff don’t understand how their roles and responsibilities link to the corporate strategy. And while 64% of companies have a value proposition, only 2% of them can articulate it simply so everyone gets it.

With all these thoughts floating in my head, I reached the front of the queue, ready to order my double espresso. And then an idea hit me like a bucket of ice on a hot summer’s day. What if I could use a simple analogy like coffee to explain how business works? Creating context for every person in an organisation. Getting everyone on the same page. I thanked the barista for my coffee and left the shop, knowing that I was onto something good.

Fast forward three years later, and I’m excited to share that I’ve done just that. I’ve written a book that explains how business works. And you could get your hands on a copy very soon. WATCH THIS SPACE!

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About Garth Jemmett

Garth Jemmett is the founder of We Explain Stuff. He helps business leaders escape complexity by making strategies, processes, products and services easy to understand.

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