Communication as Work

July 14, 2010 — 3 Comments

A knowledge worker spends a good portion of the day communicating – meetings, status reports, emails, phone calls, water cooler talks.  Much of this activity is considered unproductive overhead; when you look at a calendar full of meetings you wonder when you’re going to get any REAL work done.  And while many popular forms of communication may be inefficient and ineffective, communication is work; perhaps the most important work knowledge workers do.

Knowledge work is aimed at turning information into something decisionable and actionable; too often reports, presentations, survey results are mistaken for such.  While they are a key part of the decision equation, they are not enough.  They don’t provide insight.  The only thing they’re good for on their own is filling repositories.

Knowledge, unlike the data and information contained in reports, is a living & breathing thing.  It can’t be put in your enterprise content management system.  It exists in the heads of employees (often referred to as ‘tacit’ knowledge), constantly being shaped by different stimuli: articles, blog posts, pictures, models, books, conversations with colleagues, etc…  Communication is the process by which this constantly evolving knowledge is applied on data and information to a decisionable end.  This process will generate insights on how to take advantage of the information you have gathered.  Unless the reports, presentations and survey results are subjected to scrutiny and analysis through communication, no insights are created and decisions are delayed or malinformed.

Communication is more than just a block of time on your calendar.  It’s an opportunity to  share knowledge, gain insight, make better decisions and create for your company a competitive advantage.

What does communication look like where you work?  Is it enabling the application of knowledge to data and information?  Where do your company’s insights come from?

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3 responses to Communication as Work

  1. 

    Great post. What if the problem isn’t that we don’t embrace knowledge gathering/building techniques such as blogs, meetings, and water cooler conversations, rather we are so overwhelmed with these activities and drive them into our culture to the point that there is no execution?

  2. 

    TC – good point.

    As Elvis once said, ‘a little less conversation, a little more action.’ All the talk can get to be too much which is why it’s important to have a goal and process.

    The goal should be a decision – one that is well informed and timely; you need both. Communication helps with the well informed part and process/leadership helps with the timely part.

    I’m not sure there’s a hard and fast rule for what the process would look like, but I imagine there is some responsible party for the decision and they would outline the process, including deadline. It’s going to look different for different organizations & businesses and in a perfect world you’d continue to tweak the process to get what you need out of it.

    Maybe an over-simplified example would be the 99designs website. A client posts a need (a logo, website theme, etc..) along with a description, reward and requirements, including deadline. Designers can go to the project space, submit designs, ask questions and discuss the project. I think there are elements of that process that can be applied internally to gather feedback and discuss X.

  3. 

    Your means of explaining everything in this
    post is in fact nice, every one can without difficulty know it, Thanks
    a lot.

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