Monday, August 29, 2005

Information, Communication, and Collaboration

We spend a lot of time in business talking about communication. Yet, very few of us are formally trained in an activity which can take up the majority of our working day. I've been thinking about the nature of communication, and I've come to the conclusion that most of communication is not what we think it is, and that the real objective in communication is something other than we generally assume it is.

Most of what people assume is communication is typically one of three things: 1) Information, 2) Communication, or 3) Collaboration.

Information is the primary ingredient in most of our business-related communication. We provide information. We communicate news. We analyze data. And so on. Information in and of itself isn't communication.

Instead, communication is the mechanism by which we help information move from one place to another. We talk. We meet. We discuss. That's communication, and it's a good thing when done in moderation.

But while this moving of information via communication is good, it is not--nor should it be--the ultimate objective. No--more and more, I am starting to realize that information and communication shouldn't be goals unto themselves. The real goal of any good leader is to use information and communication to fuel collaboration. Collaboration is the place where we ge things done. It is that heady mix of info and people working together that really sets my pulse a pounding, and it's one of those things that you just know is a good thing when you see it happening.

I will continue to discuss this topic in future posts. Stay tuned.


At 6:08 AM, Blogger mondegreen said...

Good perspective. The more that colleagues share a common scope of knowledge and understanding, the less time needed in communication, and the more time available for collaboration.

If I may venture an analogy from the manufacturing domain, your definition of communication is a bit like the process of moving and storing materials. It is an activity that is sometimes required, but it is not the activity that ultimately provides the value add; in our analogy, that would be machining and assembling parts. (Let's not overdo that analogy, of course--in manufacturing, we strive to absolutely minimize moving materials; we don't have to go that far with communication.)

You have given me a fourth, implicit but previously under-articulated benefit for the book clubs I am pushing--establishing that common base of understanding to increase collaboration.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger mondegreen said...

Have you looked at the Linguistic Intelligence training program?


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