Why does the CEO of a major bank want to ban powerpoint? Why are our traditional approaches to leadership, management, marketing, sales and PR less effective? Why don’t employees get more engaged when we explain why they should be? Why do political pitches get shorter and simpler but no more effective? Why do fixed knowledge management hierarchies disappoint users? Why don’t our customers or community understand us better?
We talk at people. We don’t talk with them.
Our traditional methods of communication and exchange of knowledge talk at people. We have been taught to see communication as:
In What Channel
To What Effect?
– Laswell’s model of communication
This model of communication sees communication as a single transaction moving my stock of knowledge to you. That’s not a dynamic flow or a two-way exchange of information. It is the one-time relocation of a given stock of information, whether you want it or not. Because the transfer is one way there’s no chance to improve the knowledge or the process.
We can’t blame the failure of this approach on bad luck when it has little regard for whether someone wasn’t paying attention, didn’t need that information or doesn’t understand it.
In a connected world we no longer have the luxury of talking at people and ignoring their understanding or replies. We may design our organisations to ignore their responses but failure to discuss now has consequences. Someone will be prepared to listen to the replies of your employees, customers and community, even if it is only the other members of that group. Over time others will listen better, learn faster and new competitors will be born.
Dialogue has far more power. Working together to share and use knowledge in flight builds community and deepens understanding. Critically, the conversations that build a shared understanding also create a rich shared context on the knowledge. In many cases, the context proves more valuable than the information exchanged. If these conversations occur out loud, everyone’s understanding benefits.
Begin a new Dialogue
Start a new conversation today on a project that matters to you. Start with someone else’s purposes, concerns and circumstances. Talk with them and learn. Your turn to share will come and it will be richer for the dialogue.
What do you need to discuss?