Communication, Collaboration, Town-hall Rants and Outcomes
I’m struck with an ongoing thought about outcomes and how closely it is
tied to whether communication is collaborative or not, versus a host of
other things… such as defensive, competitive, posturing, soap boxing,
and history retelling are just a few things that come to mind.
This morning I’m looking at a blog from Roy Luebke – Why Management by
Consensus is Killing Innovation. He’s pointing out the need for surfacing
diversity of opinions, while still not being “nasty” or “engaging in win-lose
competition with one another.” I’m thinking, “What’s more important when
it comes to innovation, diversity or the emotional climate of the discussion?”
He makes an interesting side comment that “people behave in
ways that reward their behavior.” If you substitute the word outcome, for
reward, it becomes quickly apparent that some people pursue a
communication course in pursuit of an immediate outcome,
others for a longer term outcome (both are driven by emotions).
Take town hall meetings as of late. Is it communication in pursuit of
long term outcomes or short term outcomes? Today’s review of
McCain’s latest town-hall meeting suggests that the more vocal
members were actually communicating with short term outcomes
(shout down anyone who opposes) not long term outcomes in mind.
McCain’s quote on it let me wondering, “really?” “There’s obviously
strong feeling and emotions on this issue and I think the town-hall
meetings are a very important way to get people’s viewpoints and
allow them to deal directly with their elected representative.”
Do town hall meetings really engender collaboration; are they
really an effective way to get people’s viewpoints? Would you
bet that they are directly tied to innovation?
Maybe the wisdom of crowds starts disappearing when the
emotion is spent on short term objectives, especially when
there are strong emotions involved.
Communication that’s collaborative, that engenders innovation,
seems directly tied to two things:
1. A long term outcome orientation (without that, its just a discussion
with no action exit strategy – some would call this a typical meeting)
2. An emotional environment that creates safety around
surfacing diversity of thought and options, while still connecting
the accountability of outcomes to discussion.