On Bad Communication
This blog post was featured in the Huffington Post on February 23, 2016.
You have probably heard this complaint before. And probably more than once: “the decision was poorly communicated,” “No one really understood what was decided,” etc.
How can this repetitive problem, complaint, and excuse that people use when not performing well be dealt with?
First, there must be an agreement within the capi group as to what exactly we are talking about.
For example, take the following case:
“The financial model and expectations of product X was badly communicated.”
First, we have to define what a financial model is. Some people say we have a model. Other disagree, saying that we do not have one.
Well, stop the discussion and define what it is that you mean by the words you use. Accumulate, deliberate, and illuminate what a financial model entails.
In doing the exercise, you might have to differentiate between what needs to be the ingredients of a financial model versus what is nice to have.
Now that it has been defined, treat it as an illumination. It is operationally working when it is well understood by all who are supposed to use it.
Now present it for QDD (questions, doubts and disagreements).
Go over questions first. Repeat accumulation and go over new questions. Repeat. After three, max four, repeat exercises, there will be no more questions, no doubts, and no disagreements.
When that happens, you have a well communicated decision that will deal with change.
Anytime that a decision is made which is supposed to cause change, there will be complaints of bad communication. Either people truly do not understand the decision, it is new and thus not tested yet, or they are using it as an excuse to not implement the change, i.e. it is one way to resist change.
The continuous discussion of defining the words we use and then QDD-ing the illumination breaks down resistance to change and really clarifies what has been decided and how will it be implemented.
Come to think of it, it is common sense. When you decide to do something new, ask those that are supposed to implement this new decision that will cause change, if they have questions, or doubts, or disagreements. It is better to have those questions and doubts and disagreements upfront and deal with them, rather than later on during implementation, as those questions, doubts, and disagreements block implementation and waste time and resources.
Some leaders do not like to ask for QDD. They might get disagreements that they might not be able to respond to, and that might derail their decision.
How deluded is this?
Not discussing disagreements does not make them disappear. People who disagree will find ways to undermine the decision either by malicious obedience, or by inaction, or by claiming they did not understand the decision, and then go and do something else.
Hiding from disagreements does not make them disappear. Facing them does. You can decide to fire the ones who disagree. Or maybe they have a good reason to disagree, and after you listen to them, you change your mind.
How lucky, or should I say smart, you are to avoid making the mistake proactively.
Go for it.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes