Tonight’s lecture was all about communication, the different methods and approaches that lead to better outcomes, better communication of the message. It is something we do all the time, but how often do we do consider if we are doing it well?

The lecture got me thinking about communication at work, it is clear the company take it very seriously and they put a lot of effort into crafting the messages, yet many people still complain. Clearly, it is a complex field and a multi-side problem to solve. For example, people both want to know the information earlier vs late, and have it communicated to them in a personal way versus an impersonal faceless blast. Yet these seemingly simple requests are difficult to satisfy, and I would like to unpack it a bit as much for myself as for anyone else.

Firstly, early versus late information disclosure. Suppose that there might be a huge change of direction coming in six months’ time, when is the optimal time to disclose this to those that will be affected? Do you disclose the potentially career impacting news straight as away the minute you become aware of a 10-25% chance of the change occurring? In my opinion this would be too early, given the likelihood being 10-25% and with a six-month horizon. Yet if it becomes known with one month to go that you knew six months ago there is a risk of animosity. I don’t claim to have an answer to this, but I find the conflict interesting.

Secondly, just to round out my thinking out loud on this, we can consider the case of preferring personal communication versus impersonal broadcasts. Yet how can this happen in any practical way at scale. Consider again the situation where you have career impacting news that you need to share. How can you inform each person in a small personal setting without informing some before others? The ratio of communicator to recipients does not scale well to larger companies, you need must tell some percentage of the total before the rest to try to fan out in smaller ratios, relying on the people with the new information not to leak it to those who do not.

I find the whole thing quite a mess of contradictions which makes it complex and I guess why it can be considered an art form because I can’t see any clear rules. To be effective you need to balance multiple different and potentially conflicting factors at once. It is also highly likely you’ll be unable to please everyone but that might just be how it must be.

Written on September 25, 2018
[ Thinking-Out-Loud  ]