By now we've all seen "word clouds", those collections of words all jumbled up in varying sizes. The tiny words are the not so important ones and the large ones are the really important ones. Some websites actually provide a word cloud of the site right on the web site itself. Above is one for this web site, for example.
You can certainly see many of the things emphasized in announcements and such. (I also see that my friend and fellow GAIN Board member Edgar Campa-Palafox is getting a lot more ink than I am, but that's another subject!). Perhaps more interesting, is a word cloud of all the blog posts on GAINnet from the past few months, shown below. There a few surprises. We know that Bioscience is a big deal around here, but what about software and mobile apps? I guess those guys are just too busy to waste time writing blogs, huh?
So this is entertaining (and you can do your own using any text block or word list at www.tagxedo.com, by the way), but it can also be useful. Here's an idea: do a word cloud with the text from your business plan or executive summary. You might be surprised at what you see. In the best case you can actually use the word cloud with employees and others to help them better understand what you're about. Worst case, you may see that you are emphasizing words and concepts that aren't really important to you -- or that aren't important to the intended reader (usually investors).
I decided to try this with an executive summary from my old company, NovaMin Technology. As you can see we were in the oral health care field and, as intended, had a pretty commercially focused business plan. Here it is:
Most of what I see is pretty good relative to our intended communication. I expect if I still had one of our original business plans and did a word cloud there would be a bunch of more "science" type words (clinical, study, research, technology, etc.) which collectively would have (and I'm sure did) send a whole different message about the company.
Anyway, give it a try and let me know how it worked out on your executive summary.