Cranking Up the Volume

Greetings.  Communication.  In my work with companies across a wide range of industries poor "communication" is regularly cited as one of the biggest and most perplexing challenges.  And one of the greatest barriers to improved collaboration, innovation and business success.

"We don't communicate well," is a common refrain.  Or, "We don't communicate often enough."  Or, "We're rarely on the same page."  Or, "We seem to be getting mixed messages."

All because communication isn't clear, engaging and consistent across the organization.  And, in the face of these concerns, many companies simply decide to increase the volume of their communication as though this will resolve the problem or problems. 

The challenge of communicating effectively became even clearer on Friday night when our daughter Sara and I went to a concert at the 9:30 Club in Washington. We went to this popular stop on the national music circuit to hear Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit–a southern rock musician who is currently on tour promoting his newest album titled "Here We Rest."  While he's probably not a household name for most of my blog readers, his well-written and at times edgy songs about home, life, relationships and returning from war might be of interest–and you can check them out on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon.com or his website.

The lead act was James McMurtry. He's the son of author Larry McMurtry (of "Lonesome Dove" and "Terms of Endearment" fame) and an artist who has had a long and successful career writing and singing songs with real meaning.  So I was certainly open to hearing him and his band.  That is, until the first song began to play.  Because that's when their electrified guitars and basses, pounding drums and cranked up amplifiers made it almost impossible for me to understand a single word he was singing during his 75-minute set.  Though it was fun to see his loyal fans sing along with great energy and conviction (fueled in part by the availability of beer).  

And it dawned on me that this was how many organizations communicate.  Too loud and too unclear.  And with only a few insiders really getting the message and the meaning.  Add to this the fact that very few performers or companies ever ask their audiences if they can hear or understand.  Even though these are simple questions that would enable them to adjust the volume and make everyone more engaged and more likely to spread the word.

And when Jason Isbell and his band finally came on stage after 12:30 a.m. it was only slightly better.  But since I knew the words to many of his songs I was at least able to sing along with interest.

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We win in business and in life when we communicate clearly a message that matters so that everyone in the audience can hear, understand and get engaged.  And when we never stop going to rock concerts–with earplugs.

Cheers and have a communicative week ahead!

P.S.  I downloaded several of James McMurtry's songs on iTunes today and, sans amplifiers, they're definitely worth a listen.

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