I went on a bike ride on the lakefront here in Chicago the other day. Gorgeous scenery and amazing trails made for a great ride. What really caught my attention though was when I stopped in front of The Field Museum. There was a family near me and overheard the following between a father and his daughter as he looked at an outdoor statue:
Father: That’s interesting.
Daughter: What’s interesting, daddy?
Father: This thing over here.
Daughter: What thing?
That short back and forth left me frustrated. Sure, I’m not a father yet but I do know when there’s a lack of communication, especially when the other party (in this case, a child) is hoping to learn and understand. I hear this often with the social media whateveryouwannacallme living in ‘the bubble’ and paying no mind to the learning curves of others. But where I see it having greater impact is internally where individuals/teams are trying to break down barriers, evolve and venture into new areas where colleagues and the business need to be educated and led. There’s a bridge that needs building, yet the disconnect remains – but why?
People have let complacency set in. As we work on (gently) breaking through human barriers, there’s a higher level of education that needs to be addressed. The problem is that we lose sight of what that entails because we’re not preaching to the choir anymore. We’re talking to a room full of people who are curious, skeptical and uninformed. These people come with different levels of thinking and the responsibility is on us to equip them to understand so there is a two-way dialogue on the business at hand and not a siloed room of thoughts.
Communication is not easy. How we communicate with our communities to help them grow takes a LOT of effort. It’s not easy to create and sustain these networks but if we want to continue to deliver value, we have to keep up the gritty side of it. It sounds great on paper to want to connect the dots and become ‘integrated’ with our internal communities, but lacking the hard work to do so will result in the very same silos and leave a sense of ambiguity between your respective teams – and in the end, that doesn’t help serve your business’ goals.
Now that I laid out the prominent issues I see, what ways can we better it?
I put these two together as it’s easy to be outspoken, but being honest and open in those same words is more difficult. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. In situations where the open dialogue occurred after the fact, where bickering and disagreement ensued and little was accomplished. On the flip, I’m thankful to now be a part of brainstorms and strategic meetings where it’s encouraged to speak up and provide your thoughts/opinions and create a conversation that pushes plans forward collectively.
This doesn’t happen without the aforementioned honesty and openness. There is no two-way street, no open dialogue, no brainstorm without that. That’s where the gold is. That’s where the greatest disagreements, ideas and A HA moments are created. It’s easy and silly for us to think that we, from a singular role/department, can do it all and that we have all the answers. That’s not the type of attitude that breeds a collaborative culture where the entire business can grow together. You have smart people all around you, take advantage of those minds!
I listed our four points that organizations should either put in check or put into play, but let’s hear your experiences. What are your thoughts on disconnected communications?