Every great organization has a few areas where their standards are so high it’s annoying. This is a good thing. Set standards that scare you, and work to achieve them. – Brad Lomenick
I bet you can instantly relate to this quote from Brad Lomenick in some way at your organization, whether it is the quality of customer service that is expected, resourcefulness in the use of your finances or punctuality in delivering on deadlines. We’ve all got at least a couple of things with scary high standards that we can point to.
At Southwest Michigan First, our team would probably say we hold most things to these standards – engagement, customer service, creativity in economic development practices and so on – and they would be right. But, without a doubt, one of the functions that we would all agree in holding to incredibly high standards is communications, both externally and internally.
High quality, effective communication is really hard. It may be considered a “soft skill” in business, but there is nothing soft or easy about it. The way I see it: communication in an organization is the equivalent of a giant rubber bucket with a hole in the bottom. The more communication you put into it, the more the bucket stretches and the bigger the hole gets. This means you need to put more and more, and better and better communications into the bucket, and all the while it continues to stretch and empty. Just to keep up with what you did the year before, you would have to add communication by factors of two, three or four.
This is simply a result of human nature. It’s human nature to want more or expect more than you had last – and this is what our team and our audiences require. In a world where we are getting thousands of pieces of information in real time, all the time, we need to be clearer in our organizational communication strategy. We have to put mass velocity and quality together in our communications. We have to remember that people learn and need to be communicated with in different ways. It used to be, just a couple of generations ago, that communication was all about print or radio. Then TV became the dominant form. In today’s generation – everybody gets to pick how they want to be communicated with: 140 characters on Twitter, three minute YouTube videos, 18 minute TEDx talks, 24 hour news online – it’s all instant content. And unlike the newspaper, we no longer wait for it to be delivered.
I believe, when it comes to communications, all organizations need to set incredibly high standards or you will simply be filtered out of the conversation. If you can’t produce great communication in real-time for your audiences, you just won’t be relevant any longer. So, as the rubber bucket continues to expand and leak – is your communication strategy keeping up?
Question: What are you doing to improve and multiply communication in your organization? If not communication, what is one area that your organization has scary high standards?