Updated: Jan 19
2. Communicating better: With system
"You can't not communicate!" This is not an unintentional doubling of negation but an insight for which we can thank the psychologist, Paul Watzlawick. "But you can miscommunicate," one might counter with reference to business practice. In fact, "wrong" communication is a key weak point in many companies, i.e., communication that is not organized appropriately. And a source of significant waste.
Communication is one of the most critical factors for the efficient structuring and handling of day-to-day business. If you want to achieve the optimum here, you should proceed systematically and keep three parameters in mind in particular:
A high level of transparency as a basis
A suitable structure or architecture of communication
Appropriate timing of meetings
But one after the other.
Communication in companies should never be without purpose but should focus on a sound and systematic exchange of information. Of course, communication also has a social function as an interpersonal bonding agent, but we want to focus here on the technical-organizational aspects – On the work system. In such a work and cooperation system, the acting persons must always be sufficiently informed about the systems status and results. Expressed in facts and figures - this is what is meant by transparency.
Transparency also implies that information is prepared automatically, without media disruptions, and in real-time. And in such a way that it is available for visual management. This allows deviations to be identified at a glance, and prompt action and countermeasures can be taken. This is also referred to as timely deviation management, which enables decisions to be made on the basis of target-actual comparisons - leading to continuous and sustainable improvements and problem-solving in the work system, processes and projects.
Communication is not an end in itself but is one of the most important management tasks in a company. The better communication is structured, the more successful leadership can be. But this also means that stakeholders and executives must be committed to communication. And in a way that goes beyond pure commitment. Active participation (facilitation) and a willingness to shape the process are essential factors.
Like the structure of physical value creation, the communication structure must also be planned from the customer's point of view. The customer is always at the focus of attention. From this point, efficient meetings for the exchange of information must be realized, cascaded along the relevant processes/projects, broken down to sub-processes/sub-projects as well as to task level. This ensures communication efficiency.
The effectiveness of communication is achieved by cascading meetings along with the line functions. Hierarchically, this extends from the functional teams at the process level all the way up to management. Upcoming obstacles to collaboration (e.g., resource conflicts, interface problems, etc.) are identified and eliminated by making specific adjustments to the work system. This is called "servant leadership".
Meeting objectives and agendas must be tailored and as non-overlapping as possible to keep complexity under control. In other words, the content must be tailored to the company's various interest groups and leadership teams. In this regard, "content is king."
Science postulates that systems have their own time concepts and rhythms (cf. e.g., Rüdiger Safranski: Zeit, 2015). In this context, rhythm and timing are related to the environment and properties of a system. Regarding organizations, I speak of the heartbeat or drumbeat of a working system, which significantly shapes leadership and collaboration.
In a government agency, the term "timely" has a different dimension than in an IT startup. But communication must work in any case - also and especially with a view to timely deviation management. Even within one company, there are definitely different cycles, depending on the functions and processes.
In production, a daily cycle has proven to be suitable. Meetings according to the pattern outlined above usually take place daily along the complete cascade.
In indirect areas, usually, the cycles are longer. From the experience of many projects, the cycle varies between weekly (e.g., in development) and twice a week (in the service areas). Again, this refers to the entire process and line cascade.
Transparency - structure - timing: The characteristics of a good communication system are known and named. And still, communication, leadership and collaboration can fail. Causes are often rooted in organizations themselves. Find out what this means and how to deal with it in the next post.
from the ValueStreamer-Team