When we discover misunderstandings, and work them out, we tend to focus on the misunderstanding at hand. Afterwards — not often enough — we ask ourselves, "Is it possible that there are some similar misunderstandings elsewhere?" If we look upon misunderstandings as potential indicators of broader difficulties, we often find opportunities to search around for other examples of that same difficulty.
For example, suppose you discover that one of the Advance Marketing (AM) teams began meeting weekly to make plans for a new product introduction. And suppose you find that they've been meeting without a representative from Customer Support (CS). This isn't good, because AM does need input from CS, and CS needs to be fully aware of what AM is planning. After investigating, you manage to correct this communication defect.
But you don't stop there. It occurs to you that other AM product introduction planning teams might be doing the same thing — that is, excluding CS. Not by intention, perhaps, but it doesn't matter why. Upon investigation you discover two AM teams that are including CS and one that isn't. So you fix the one that isn't, too. Finally, you address the problem generally between AM and CS, and that kind of omission won't be happening again. Success.
But what about the relationship between CS and the Product Development teams? Are they keeping each other as informed as they need to? Since you don't know, you investigate that, too, and you fix what you find there. More success. You keep doing this until all the connections with CS are working right.
Then you take it further. You look at all the silos, top to bottom, to determine whether all the people that need to connect with each other are actually connecting. It becomes an enterprise-wide initiative.
I call Communication refactoring is a
disciplined process of improving
communication between the
parts of an organizationthis process communication refactoring. It's a method for generalizing one situational repair of organizational communications to all possible instances where it might be beneficial, throughout the organization. In this way, by improving organizational communication gradually, we help to transform the organization from a series of weakly interacting silos into a coherent whole. I say "help" because there's a lot more to do to achieve coherence, but communication refactoring is a good start.
The term refactoring is borrowed from Software Engineering, where it refers to a disciplined practice of gradually transforming a program's code, usually by a series of seemingly tiny changes, that, over time, make the code more readable, maintainable, and extensible without directly affecting its intended functionality. By analogy, communication refactoring is a disciplined process of improving communication between the parts of an organization.
You might ask, "Where else can we apply the refactoring approach to improve the effectiveness of the day-to-day interactions of organizational life?" My guess: everywhere. You can start today. Top Next Issue
Are your projects always (or almost always) late and over budget? Are your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around. Read 52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented Organizations, filled with tips and techniques for organizational leaders. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrendBlVFQYgloBehGQuner@ChacleOzjvhwrCACVlpKoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Critical Thinking and Midnight Pizza
- When we notice patterns or coincidences, we draw conclusions about things we can't or didn't directly
observe. Sometimes the conclusions are right, and sometimes not. When they're not, organizations, careers,
and people can suffer. To be right more often, we must master critical thinking.
- Enjoy Every Part of the Clam
- Age discrimination runs deep, well beyond the hiring decision. When we value each other on the basis
of age, we can deprive ourselves and our companies of the treasures we all have to offer.
- Virtual Communications: II
- Participating in or managing a virtual team presents special communications challenges. Here's Part
II of some guidelines for communicating with members of virtual teams.
- Four Popular Ways to Mismanage Layoffs: I
- When layoffs are necessary, the problems they are meant to address are sometimes exacerbated by mismanagement
of the layoff itself. Here is Part I of a discussion of four common patterns of mismanagement, and some
suggestions for those managers and other employees who recognize the patterns in their own companies.
- Virtual Clutter: I
- With some Web searching, you can find abundant advice for decluttering your home or office. And people
are even thinking about decluttering email inboxes. But the problem of clutter is far more widespread.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
- A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.
- And on August 1: Strategies of Verbal Abusers
- Verbal abuse at work has special properties, because it takes place in an environment in which verbal abuse is supposedly proscribed. Yet verbal abuse does happen at work. Here are three strategies abusers rely on to avoid disciplinary action. Available here and by RSS on August 1.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrensPQorkuewGMpMAIqner@ChaceNCexLBOwNBTfaceoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, USD 11.95)
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, USD 28.99)
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.