September 2, 2016

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Communication Problems are Symptoms of Unnecessarily Complicated Processes

As one undertakes any organizational transformation from one performance state to the next, communication problems arise.  They arise because there will never be enough time and resource to communicate the vision, strategy, plans and all the changes in sufficient detail to satisfy every person in a large organization...at least not using words. Consequently, there will be a few people who do not understand and complain that communication is poor.  The perception of poor communication can tend to build resentment and feelings of resistance against the changes.  While there are many factors which must be taken into account to limit the friction to change, they all can all be mapped to the level of complicatedness or disorder.  Disorder, it turns out, is a measurable quantity, and thus, intentionally improvable.  

 

The GroEngine software platform provides the tool to minimize or completely avoid this situation. But the surprising short lesson is that communication cannot be improved directly with more verbal communicating.  In other words, what one finds is that no fixed amount of email, meetings or conferences will avoid or overcome this resentment.  And, generally, redirecting energy and time to attempt to improve communication directly delays the physical changes which, ironically, are required in order to actually improve communication.

 

You see, communication is simply the transfer of information in order to effect some change in our conditions or in others' behavior.  The amount and complicatedness of communication increases with population size and system disorder and the number of system conditions that need to change, like the number of remote team members.  

 

An example can help illustrate this point.  If I transact through an ATM machine, I follow very simple instructions and are always successful achieving the desired transaction without invoking communications or training by humans.  In contrast, before ATMs, every transaction involved communication with a human teller.  This took a longer time, and sometimes there were errors or misunderstandings.  Certainly, there was more communication required to reach the same results. The ATM represents a simpler transaction interface.  This simpler process requires less, or effectively zero, communicative interactions.  It follows that system simplification is the action required to improve communication.  Any other activity will likely only make it worse, or at least, no better.

 

If on your employee surveys you find that "communication needs to be improved", you must find the process complexity that the comment is pointing out, and simplify the process.  Counterintuitively, do not rely on words alone to communicate better.    

 

I'll receive a hundred rebuttals to my words here, which will prove my point.   

 

 

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