In fact it was two of our classes at Pratt: Communication.
How many people do you work with who write emails that are frustrating for their lack of clarity, especially when that person is in a senior position to you and is giving you direction on delivering something to him/her? Or a subordinate who you've asked a yes/no question to and gives you a 5 minute reply doesn't answer you at all, and in fact only confuses you as to what she/he is on about? How often do you read or hear someone say something that misses the point or is just an onslaught of words, and makes you wonder if there is a point at all?
It's bad design. What you say, how you say it and what you mean is part of a larger 'design'. Mostly I think that if you express yourself poorly you either don't have the verbal or written skills to execute on your idea or your ideas don' t have clarity. Either way, it's trouble -- even for sustainability reports.
"Climate change must feature in trading statements" by Sarah Murray (FT) makes some salient points about communication and how it's key to not only sustainability reports but communicating a vision and a mission -- especially when it comes to change.
"...at SustainAbility, a consultancy whose work includes brokering relations between internal corporate groups as well as between investors and companies."
"...one of the reasons companies have trouble convincing investors of the merits of their sustainability strategies is that their sustainability staff are not communicating effectively with the investor relations department... sustainability professionals often come into the corporate world from the non-profit sector... but no grasp of finance."
So it doesn't matter if you're talking about a sustainability mission, vision, change, report, or how your weekend was... "'Most people... say they don't understand each other -- and that's part of the reason why internally that hasn't been progressed quicker."
Always #1: Know your audience
PS How many of you wonder if I'm being paid by the Financial Times to quote and refer to their articles? It's just they're a brilliant paper. One day, and probably not too far in the future, I'm going to get a subscription to every paper I can, read them, and make my own selections. Until then I'm going to subscribe to "The Week".