How is Multivalence Sabotaging Your Team?


Multivalence (noun) məl-ˈti-və-lən(t)s -- the quality or state of having many meanings

Source: Merriam-Webster

Multivalence is watering down your instructions, advice and knowledge everyday. People don't get when you mean when what you say is left to interpretation, which often leaves you with results that fall short of expectations.

Multivalence doesn't mean to cause any trouble. It's just its nature to confuse people and be ambiguous. Think of the word, content, for example:

  • Content to a content strategist is any information conveyed through a medium
  • Content to a content marketer is another node in the sales funnel
  • Content to an SEO is at least 250 words, some rich media and a lot of supporting HTML markup
  • Content to a graphic designer is the words, images and layout of a website
  • Content to a copywriter is the words on the page only
  • Content to a professor of a university is the curriculum and courses that make up a program
  • Content to a cat is a warm ray of sunshine after some Fancy Feast with a catnip chaser

Now imagine what would happen if you'd say, "We need to create better content," and leave it at that. With so many ways to interpret success, who knows where you'll go?

Multivalence is great for getting everyone excited about a common objective, but specificity should define the common goal.