Communication is a systematic problem!

It is very rare to hear about a group that was asked to list their current challenges and communication didn’t come as one of the first three opportunities. Communication is a common issue for organizations for a long time, yet whatever organizations try to do to resolve communication issues, year after year it is still the most concerning area for people who are working together to reach a common goal.

If you try continuously to resolve an issue in different ways and you can’t solve it, it is a clear indication that you have some systematic problem that you need to address. Problems with systems are very hard to fix as changing a system is changing people mental model and basic concepts, which people are shying away from. Yet, if you are facing an issue with your system the only way to fix it is to change the system.

For example, let’s take a section in a highway that after renovation start to experience a weekly accident. In the beginning, the drivers will be blamed. The local police will take actions, but with no results. Then the cars will be blamed, but with no results. Then the weather, topology and anything else but the road. Just when the problem with the road will be found and fixed the level of accidents will go down.

The same apply to communication. Communication is a problem because the structure of a hierarchical organization based on specialized departments (silos) create by default this problem. A startup with few people working together will have less complains about communication. why? Because there aren’t hierarchies and silos in a small startup. But, as the startup grows and hierarchies, as well as departments, evolving communication start to be a problem.

As I mentioned before this can be resolved by changing the system. But moving away from hierarchies to different organizational structures and transforming from department to hybrid teams is not an easy journey.

Communication though is essential for any company success in a non-linear business environment where the business needs to respond to unplanned external events all day long. One of the primary requirement to be successful in this environment is effective communication between all functions in the company that needs to take action to respond to any given event.

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