Dysfunctional Communications or It’s Too Technical

It was in the context of identifying distressed power assets and renewable energy technology for turnaround that I first came across the condition which cripples operations and development and is very much at the root of today’s banking, business and global economic crisis: Business and technical teams are dysfunctional in their communications, both unable and, more seriously, unwilling to understand the work and concerns of the other. Too often, critical knowledge and discernments are passed over or rebuffed as being the technical mumbo jumbo or neurosis of the other. Points are missed. Risks are unassessed. Business issues are overlooked for failure or refusal to look complexity in the face and work to understand.

Engineers do not want to understand the business model from the economics and legal risks to the depths of the customers’ needs and prejudices. Finance people just want to crunch the numbers. Geologists and designers don’t want to manage people; they just want to see inanimate patterns. And the business people just want to keep moving, trouble them not about risk and regulation; send the complications back to engineering and have IT stay late to do whatever it is they do with code and networks. Marketing people just want to get it out there.

While a systemic problem, this communication dysfunction is considered far too much the normal course of management engagement (or nonengagement). It is a complex problem rooted in attitudes towards risk, planning, deal making and project development. It is a matter of silo-ization, specialization and insulation from all the moving parts of organization, market and product. It actually requires not only education but re-education and attitude shifting (I hate to use the word ‘alignment’) to face the issue and resolve the conflict. It takes not just communication across and within all the parts of the organization and its outside consultants and stakeholders, it takes movement.

It takes getting up and sharing to know and do what is done throughout the organization and its associated parts and interfaces. It now takes daring to say ” No I don’t understand” or “”How does that work?”” or “Should it?” and “And then what?” It takes daring to say the emperor has no clothes or the CDO is bare. And it should not.

© 2009 Sigrid Caroline Schroder. All Rights Reserved.