Saturday, October 17, 2020

Communication, Culture, Capability & Their Interwoven Relationships

Without vision, communication is pointless; without knowledge, communication is empty; without insight, communication is shallow, without creativity or a sense of humor, communication is tedious.

Communication is the bridge between people . Communication is not for its own sake, but for making right decisions, solving tough problems, and making progressive changes. Keep in mind though, listening, speaking or writing are fundamental communication skills, but to develop high level communication competency is something broader and deeper. 

With exponential growth of information, interdependence, and hyper diversification, digital citizens who live in today's knowledge economy need to become knowledge experts, persuasive communicators, and versatile innovators, etcHere is the interrelationship between communication, culture, capability, as well as some deep thoughts on how to make a leap of shaping communication competency from good to great.

Good communication needs to be fact based in order to nurture analytical culture and develop coherent digital capabilities: Either individually or collectively, communicating with business peers, partners, or customers, needs to be authentic and fact-based. Good communication is based on expertise, contextual understanding, and deep insight, to avoid “lost in translation” syndrome. Communication effectiveness sets culture tones and drives the long term business competency. In addition, how to make effective communication much depends on the individual’s professional competency, the organizational leadership, as well as the corporate culture. In an open and progressive culture, open communication generates a digital vibe to inspire change, engage the variety of audience and streamline strategy management.

The potential culture pitfalls such as over-complexity, poor data quality, running into multiple versions of the truth, "intending to “boil the ocean,” or “can't see the wood for the trees" etc, syndromes are all roadblocks to achieve communication effectiveness. Besides oral or writing communication skills, building a high level of professional communication capability is a journey of shaping digital fitting mindset, gaining domain knowledge, cultivating the right attitude (fact driven, humility, empathy, etc), paying more attention to the communication content, context, and style to tailor different audiences, respecting their cognitive diversity, and trying to send the message which appeals to them, to illuminate the way forward.

Great communication should be creative in order to nurture a culture of innovation and shape a unique set of business or professional capabilities: Language is the art, communication is both art and science. We can't treat language just as a system of words and grammar, being just names of things. It means speaking fluently or articulating well are still not sufficient to have effective communication capability or becoming a great communicator. Without vision, communication is pointless; without knowledge, communication is empty; without insight, communication is shallow, without creativity or a sense of humor, communication is tedious. Effective communication needs to be creative and convey contextual intelligence or tell vivid stories. Speaking multiple languages is the skill, but culture-cognition and empathy are crucial ingredients to build high level communication capability.

However, in many traditional organizations, the audience is often the homogeneous group who gets used to hierarchical style of communication with oxymoron tone and black and white reasoning. With hyper diversity today, creative communication style is more open and interactive to bridge gaps and connect the minds and hearts. Digital leaders and professionals can sense, feel, read, imagine and intuit possibilities, they need to be creative and persuasive in order to get their ideas sponsored and implemented. Creative communication is the bridge between vision and reality; abstract and concrete; art and science. Higher level communication competency at the corporate level further shapes a culture of innovation. In fact, communication and participation are important to spark creativity and nurture a culture of innovation. At the global stage, an open-minded mentality with the true cultural sensitivity and appreciation of cultural differences support forging global/cultural relationships and foster empathic communication.

Superior communication should be strategic in order to nurture a culture of high performance and build transformative capabilities: Highly effective communication is the lubricate to solve problems. Superior communication not just articulates what happens today, but conveys the vision of “to be,” because the future is what really matters. The authentic, candid, and strategic communication harnesses trust and encourages problem-solving, especially at the strategic level. To build this level of communication competency, it’s important to think independently with the capability to communicate strategically, be fluent with multi business dialects, from general business language to technique terminology, use them and switch back and forth appropriately with accurate interpretations. Oftentimes, the mistake that most organizations make in this regard is to fail translating the high-level language of strategy into the professional language of the various staff specialisms. 

Almost every digital professional, especially leaders, need to master at what to communicate and how to communicate ideas, strategy, influence, practices., etc. At senior leadership level, as many times, abstraction enables an agreement. Open your mind - listen (read) carefully, and expect to find some new insight. Strategic communication is not the top-down one-way street, it should embrace creativity, context, cascade, to enforce trust and accountability, streamline knowledge flow, and reach digital synchronization.

Communication, communication, and communication. If communication has to develop fully and authentically, it is essential that the person communicating should be aware of what he/she wants to communicate, how he/she communicates and above all ensure that he/she has communicated correctly. Good communicators have the expertise and integrity to substantiate what they stand for, make sure the message they want to communicate resonates consistently and effectively. They deliberately shape their communication capability, and become a proactive culture influencer to drive progressive changes and add the value in the organization and the world.


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