Most of us don’t think about communication all that much (I admit I am a bit weird). Whether at lunch, in the parking lot, or in the office, it just kind of happens. It’s always happening. It’s often uninteresting. And, we take for granted that, at a basic level, it works.
It’s the autonomic system of our organizations.
And, like the heart or lungs, when communication breaks down, it can disrupt the system as a whole – often critically. It may not happen the first instance, but it will happen in time. (And, it’s likely to be bad when it does.)
Communication’s ubiquity and interrelatedness make investing in and defining a clear communication strategy both imperative and difficult for our organizations. We too often start with the wrong questions (if we actually think about it at all): Who “owns” it? What department does it live in? Whose budget? Do I have to change? Do we need a task force? Some new guidelines? A new technology?
Organizational communications isn’t managed in a department or facilitated by one leader, or team, or task force. Effective communication is a value that must be modeled from the top down and owned across divisions, departments, and facilities. It is an operational imperative that requires strategies, tactics, and tools that align with the way we do business and who we do business with. It is a business investment critical to our bottom line and other desired outcomes. It is a commitment and a discipline.
To build an effective communication strategy, we need to start with some diagnostics and chart a pathway to wellness. So, let’s start with a few questions:
WHY: Why is good communication important to us and our organization? How would it impact our work environment? Our outcomes? The bottom line?
WHAT: What would really good communication look like? What do our people want to know? What do we want them to know? What and how much can they consume within their regular workflow? What tools do they currently use?
WHERE: Where does critical information currently live? How is it disseminated? Where does critical information die?
WHO: Who is “responsible” for communication? Who are the hubs, both formal and informal? Who is key to an effective communication strategy? Whose job and workflow does a new strategy impact? Who supports fidelity to and adaptation of the strategy?