A Pyramid of Confusion

An unclear idea, no matter how good it is, typically falls flat.  Just look at the Food Pyramid.  Who can argue with the idea of developing a tool to help people eat a healthy diet?  But how many people walk down the grocery isle toting their Food Pyramid.

The biggest challenge is figuring out how to interpret the information.  For example, how do you know how many ounce equivalents of grain you had today?  And what do all of the colors mean on the Pyramid?  Or what about the shape—why a pyramid?

As you probably already know, despite the best efforts of nutrition experts, the Food Pyramid has been a flop and an example of how to take a good idea and make it absurdly abstract.  In June of this year, the Food Pyramid was replaced.  Nutrition experts realized they needed to clarify their message, so they created “MyPlate” which is an at-a-glance guide for a healthy plate of food.

Fruits and vegetables, for example, occupy half the plate, giving people a simple visual for a healthy way to eat.  Load at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.  Easy.  Gone are the ounce equivalents of grain and other abstract measurements.

The toppling of the Pyramid can teach us all a valuable lesson.  If we want to implement a good idea, we must communicate it clearly, and if we fall short we may spend considerable time trying to put out fires.  As George Barnard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Challenge yourself to make the extra effort right now to ensure your ideas are clearly understood.

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