The Power of Informal Conversations

I just came from an organization that is crazy busy. Because of the insane pace, they pride themselves on using technology to the hilt–email, chat rooms, instant messaging, etc. The effectiveness (or not) of email and chat rooms as a form of workplace communication is a study in and of itself. What this executive team is discovering, however, is the number of miscommunications and misunderstandings that are occurring. But they shared with me that they can’t figure out why.

In today’s wired world, I think it’s intriguing to note an insight from Steve Jobs. Interestingly enough, Walter Isaacson notes in his Harvard Business Review article, The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs (April 2012), that Jobs was a firm believer in face-to-face communication.

Isaacson notes Jobs as saying, “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

It’s an interesting insight from one of the world’s most technologically creative geniuses.

Indeed, the best way to understand your organization’s corporate brain trust is to pull your exec team together into a room for two days of Annual Planning and have them hash through the give-and-take of identifying what’s most important for the organization to focus on and then entertain how you plan to accomplish what you’ve identified as your Winning Moves. Having Quarterly and/or Annual facilitated Onsite Planning will readily provide insights into your company’s preferred future and clarity as to how you collectively hope to get there…and you’ll have a great face-to-face conversation in the process.

Fireside chat, anyone?

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