High-Quality Communication Rarely Ever Occurs By Accident
“Faster-better-cheaper” uses information exchange as its motor. It requires tight coordination. Effective linkages. A free flow of ideas. Information hoarding is a cardinal sin and openness a key virtue.
That’s because communication problems never remain just communication problems. They weaken everything else. If you let communications get balled up, performance goes down. If people fall into the habit of hiding problems, sitting on good ideas, or withholding information, you soon end up with “slower-worse-more expensive.”
Nevertheless, an attitude still lingering in the minds of some people says,“If the people in charge want me to know, they’ll come and tell me. If there’s a problem, somebody else will fix it. If I’ve got a good idea, I’m gonna keep it to myself.” This kills an organization’s innovative potential. Each person needs to take responsibility for seeking understanding. This means actively chasing down the answers we need. Attacking problems. And if we know of information that should be communicated to others, our job is to push it through the pipeline to them.
The hairier the issues, the more important it is that they be identified and confronted. They belong in the communication loop. So don’t dodge the sensitive stuff. Deal with it—keep it on the table until the people involved have worked it through. The idea is to be hard on the issues, soft on the people. That protects the relationships that are involved, yet allows you to get to the guts of the problem.
High-quality communication doesn’t come easy, and hardly ever occurs by accident. It requires personal attention. It takes a lot of time. But it’s absolutely essential in today’s real-time environment.