I think that it is fair to say that many of us have experienced a conversation where the person talking used acronyms and in house company language to tell a story or explain something. Perhaps like me you wondered at times what they were talking about and had to ask them to explain themselves. It is very easy to presume that people know what we are talking about which is particularly dangerous in business as it lends itself to costly misunderstandings. This is more common than we realise as participants in a meeting may pretend to understand what is being said rather than ask a question for fear of looking foolish. We all as children remember this from our school days but my 40+ years of business experience continually reaffirms that this inadequacy is still a part of many peoples lives. We should encourage everybody to speak up and ask questions because good communications both internally and externally ensures that our message is clearly heard and understood.
But let us throw a new dynamic into the mix, a new language that is developing with very few rules. A new language that is driven by social media and has come with the huge growth in smartphone usage. On the surface it seems harmless enough as a younger generation communicates with abbreviated messages and shorthand that even they sometimes struggle to understand. But, we must ask what is the likely impact of the new phenomenon for business in the future.
A whole new generation will enter the workforce with its own form of communication which is fine for their social lives but what about its impact on business. In fact texting and other forms of social media communications are being used to avoid face to face communications which presents its own challenges. We have seen it already with people emailing each other even though they are in the same office and so we can only wonder what the impact of this technology will have in terms of disrupting an already challenged area of the business.
In a world where we struggle to get our message out, how do we respond to a challenge that we have never seen before. We know the importance of good communications both internally and externally but this challenge is unique and the speed in which it has been adopted suggests that perhaps we are not in control of what is happening. The surge in this form of communication has really only taken place within the last decade so those who now use it as a primary form of communications will only be entering the workforce with the consequences yet to be seen.
We are in the midst of the 4th Industrial Revolution with more changes taking place than we have ever seen before. The pace of life is increasing leaving us less time to consider the challenges and so create a robust response. We are finding that we are more reactive which may solve a short term issue but there are long term challenges that need to be addressed.
We must continually remember the importance of the 3R’s, Recognise, Respond and Review. We must ensure that we have agile systems that allow us to recognise what is happening. This means ensuring that the links in the command structure work harder with top to bottom and bottom to top communications operating more efficiently. We must create robust strategies that respond to the changing needs of our organisations and then have a review structure in place to monitor the results and continually adapt as necessary.
Consider the cost to your organisation in relation to communication gaps. What obvious challenges do you see and who is tasked with monitoring, reporting and responding?
This is just one piece of a talk given by Alec Drew – The Business Expert called Disconnected in a Connected World. If you would like to know more please email firstname.lastname@example.org