The Infrastructure of Communication

A few weeks ago we talked about how interconnected trust and communication are — each affects the other, and when they’re failing, you can quickly find yourself with a toxic work environment. But it’s worth noting that while broken trust will almost always break down communication, broken communication can sometimes be the result of something as simple as broken infrastructure. 

One of the biggest problems in organizational communication is when people feel out of the loop. Actions are being taken and people who need to know are not being informed. We don’t know the things we “should” but, somehow, others know it, so we take offense — we might even perceive an intentional slight. For growing teams in particular this can feel overwhelming — it used to be just three of you in a garage, and communication was simple, real-time, thorough! But now it’s a team of twelve, and four of them are remote, and things are slipping through the cracks. But how do you fix it?

First, which problem are you solving? Is the problem over-communication with people swimming in so much information they can’t distinguish what’s important from what’s just FYI? Or is it a case of so little communication people can go for weeks before hearing important updates? Either way, the answer, as with most things, is based in simplicity. Occam’s Razor states that if there are two explanations for an occurrence, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Applied to solutions: in the face of any technical problem, the simplest tool is usually the most effective. Analyze what your needs are, and then find the tool that most efficiently meets those needs. In the case of communication, it could be something like Slack, Basecamp, or Discord. If you’ve over-engineered the problem, signing up for five full-blown SaaS tools when one would have done the trick — because, you know, if one is good, five is surely better — then you need to simplify. Rarely is your objective to figure out what forms of communication provide the most features — but rather, which provides the simplest, minimum number of features necessary to keep communication as clear and obvious as possible. Otherwise, you add unnecessary complexity to the very problem you’re trying to solve.

Do you have a solid, reliable infrastructure of communication, both with technology as well as the “chain of command” that will pass information from person to person? Or are you over (or under) thinking it?

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash