Can We Communicate?
When we set out to analyze problems within a system's processes, we start by asking a series of simple questions in our attempts to analyze problems and formulate solutions:
Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?The order varies depending on the particular issue being analyzed, but each of these elements need to be present, and each question may need multiple answers before the particular problem is fully and truthfully defined.
These same elements need to be present in any business or technical communication, written or verbal, to ensure that the intended message is fully received and understood by the intended recipients.
You can guage the effectiveness of communications within your own organization by looking at some of your email exchanges that involve coordinated actions by multiple people. If the first message is not clearly and fully communicated, it will likely spawn a series of queries attempting to clarify the missing elements.
And so on, until the entire schedule of events is consumed with attempts to clarify the original ambiguous message.
Had all the missing elements been collected, organized, analyzed, and distributed to all particitpants as a coordinated plan of action, the remaining questions would have been fewer, and the plan would have had a better chance of success.
"A problem fully stated is a problem half solved." This quote has been used in various forms by many different people. Regardless, it is one of those simple truths that, if regularly employed, could save us all much wasted time, money, and energy.
Communication skills, good or bad, are learned behaviors and habitual. Bad habits are hard to break; they must be replaced with better and different habits, and these efforts toward better communication habits must be encouraged.
Good communication skills are the result of training, personal effort, and continuous practice. The smooth flow of appropriate, useful, honest, pertinent, and unambiguous information is critical to the smooth flow of business processes.
JNM - 2010