A short reflection about Communication in Stupid Structures
There is no way out: Dynamic Equilibrium of Constant Communications
One could speak of a Dynamic Equilibrium of Constant Communications (DECC).These ongoing exchanges happen anywhere and anytime in a social system, no matter what you do. A favorite example for bad DECC Regulation is the case, in which the Board or Owner of a company decides (alone) to initiate a mayor shift in the structure of the firm, change of Business Strategy, or if parts of the Business are sold to competitors. In this context the “changed” organization will automatically fire its internal communication processes, because “the system” wants to understand what it means for it on a personal level and the organization as a whole. The communication will take place – that’s sure. So instead of letting a not-constructive discourse happen, it would be much wiser to channel the communication by designing and using platforms, forums, communities, Town Hall Meetings or whatever.
Therefore I dare to claim: It would be possible to engage in a systemwide discourse, which could lead to broader consent about the change, whilst keeping the motivation of the people high and letting them participate in the transformation process – to which extent could be still argued, but in the end I think that a little bit of participation is better than no participation at all (I admit, this is very simplified). There are a bunch of different formats available to engage and enter meaningful discussions – even with some hundred people at the same time! But as long as we have to deal with non-participative systems, one will never discover the human potential of an organization.
That’s why I can’t hear the argument anymore, that e.g. Scrum means more communication than in the good old times of the waterfall. Again: the communication will happen anyhow, even in the linear planning environment – latest in the moment, when the shit hits the fan and a plan is faced with “reality”. So one does not save time to communicate, if one tries to organize meetings with the typical “efficiency paradigm” and cutting the chances for contribution, participation and the inevitable dialectics. It won’t work, because the system will find alternative paths to communicate.
It’s “just” a matter of how to design the social interactions in the organization, the rituals and the spaces to enable relationships – in short: the social-interaction-structures of the system. Therefore: if the sum of the total communication is a constant in a system, then it should be a matter of how to enhance the mutual interpretation processes to achieve better decisions (and hopefully better results).
The phenomena of Structural Stupidity can be observed in not to little organizations – and it is not the question, if we think about a huge corporation or a funky start-up. They can share the same pathological structures, which are driven by a bizarre mix of Taylorism, the undestroyable believe in Long-Term Planning, semi-feudal Leadership behaviour and a general mistrust in intellectuality (because it is believed that thinking is not making…). It costs the company and even sometimes the society an enormous amount of resources to maintain the existence, or compensate the failure of such organizations.
All Day Example: let two intelligent people work within these stupid structures, and in total they would be less intelligent and less effective in their mutual achievement to create a solution, than when they would have worked on the same problem alone.
This is insane and is the worst WOMBAT of all the WOMBATS (Waste Of Money Brain And Time). If one does not resolve the issue of Structural Stupidity, any other transformation measure will be of cosmetic nature.