We have all been in the position where we have a great deal of information to disseminate to a significant number of people. What do we do? We write the “Mother of all Memos” – MoaM, (please pardon the allusion to a wayward military comment in the coining of a new communications phrase) and then put it to a distribution that rivals Santa’s Naughty / Nice list. We now have all the information communicated to all the people. Our job is done here, right? I don’t think so.
On the surface this may seem to be the best way for us to communicate, but it reality it isn’t. It may be efficient for the sender (one memo typed and sent) but is it efficient communications?
Efficient communications is providing the appropriate information to the appropriate audience, at the right time. That means only the information that is needed then, not all the information you have. Does everyone on that massive distribution list need to know everything that is contained in the body of the MoaM? Better yet, will everyone on that distribution list even read the entire memo in an effort to glean the specific pieces of information that they need from it? We would all like to think that everything that we write (including this Blog article) is of such importance that everyone will read it in its entirety, print it out, high-light it, then annotate it and keep it close by where they can often refer to it.
Efficient communications would call for us to create several shorter memos, with significantly shorter distribution lists where the information in each memo is appropriate for the specific audience and does not contain information that is not needed by that audience. It may be a little more work on the sender’s part but it will more efficiently communicate the information…and it will probably also cut down on the enormous number of the dreaded one-line “reply all” message chains that invariably follow the use of the MoaM.
Effective communications is providing the right information in the right format for the appropriate audience. This means sending emails, right? In the past this has certainly been the case, but is really the most effective method?
As matrix organizations, teaming and collaboration have proliferated, specific communities of interest have been created. Communications capabilities have also been developed in this area. Where email is a One-to-Many, or a Many-to-Many form of communications, new capabilities such as SharePoint (my apologies to both my Mac and PC friends for using a Microsoft example) allows an accessible network location to be created where there is now a Many-to-One communications structure (many people accessing a single information location). This new(er) type of communications format might provide a more effective way to provide the right information to the right audience.
For me the only issue that arises with the creation of SharePoints for communication and information exchange is that it is not a “Push” form of communications. Email allows us the “Push” the information out to the desired recipients and participants. Once it is sent we are reasonbly sure that the desired recipients have it. SharePoint usually requires the desired participants to access the site and “Pull” the information down from it.
It’s a small difference, but in the hectic world in which we are all now working, it is just another activity that we must take the initiative on to accomplish. Emails come to us. They require an action. Even if you choose to do nothing, it was an active decision to do nothing based on the email. If we must go to a location to find out what we must / need to do, it might just be easier to not go, and as a result not have to make a decision regarding what does or doesn’t need to get done.
Now the decision to do / not do anything can be based upon whether or not we have decided to go get the information to act on, not what the information is itself may be.
It used to be just writing a big, long memo and sending it to everyone. Now we need to look at what is efficient (what information for which audience), and what is effective (what format “Push/Pull”, for which audience) will be the best to achieve the objectives.
On the other hand, it might not be such a bad idea to just pick up the phone and call……