I found this interesting post by Tim Brown and comments on LinkedIn today about how best to manage simple communication across complex global businesses.
It’s highlights the leadership imperative to continue to think about the best ways to share and spread communication around a complex global business. With so many ways now to communicate and with many business becoming increasingly geographically diverse it’s little wonder that even with all the latest digital technology the words ‘a communication breakdown’ continue to be said.
One of Tim’s points is that in relying so heavily on digital communication we’re losing the ability to communicate properly using other senses as per Peter Drucker’s teaching.
However, as much as I’m a fan of simplicity I’m not so sure it’s as simple as having more ‘face time’ although having worked in a big Global business at Sony I’m sure that there is plenty more that companies can do to streamline video communication within core corporate communication channels such as email/intranets/social media, etc.
To me, one of the greatest communication complexities that companies need to manage is self-made – simply having too many projects & initiatives without a simple or well-managed structure/process to channel communication.
I’m sure we’ve all been to too many meetings, with too many participants that don’t really deliver results. Very few meetings I’ve been to recently have the old-school basics of clear action points/owners that are followed up on. We’ve all got way too many emails with large distribution lists making many irrelevant. New good systems like Salesforce.com are being introduced but seem to add an extra channel of communication on top of existing email/intranets and other internal reporting.
Quite simply beyond the wise words of Drucker I think the key to simplifying communication in many businesses is simply to have less of it and make sure it is simply and appropriately channeled.
1 – Fewer projects that are only focused on the key business priorities – less small/secret projects that have minor incremental benefits and complicate the big initiatives.
2 – Fewer meetings and internal communication channels – with participants limited to those necessary and guidelines for good practice engagement rewarded.
3 – Sharper project management and communication of action ownership & status for key work initiatives – it seems to have become ‘dated’ to manage meetings and projects with some of the discipline of old but done well it can seriously reduce the time spent wasted clarifying next steps after meetings.
4 – More ‘Face Time’ – both the physical and better integration of video into the selected business communication channels.
A simple case of ‘less is more’.