Communication is one of the biggest problems facing organisations today. Some would say it is because the word 'communication' is actually a nominalisation (turning a verb into a noun) which simply obscures its intent and scope - and that we would be much better off if we were clear about who is communicating what to whom, rather than some more general and nebulous concept. We would agree with this principle, and 80% of the tools reflected on the Communication panel are simply about gaining clarity of focus over 'what' needs to be communicated, by 'whom' to 'whom'. Our focus in this panel however is quite specific - we are limiting ourselves to the relationships between processes, and between processes and the top-level, to ensure that progress against the intent of the organisation is swift, efficient and that any issues are effectively and promptly addressed - all the while maintaining a real sense of ownership at the process level.

The tools identified on the panel are explained in some detail below:

The Communication Map, otherwise known as the 'Roof' of the QFD is a tool which explores the likely points of synergy or friction within the organisation (by mapping relationships), and helps determine the necessary levels and forms of communication to minimise conflict, and maximise cross-working and teamwork. The method of developing the 'roof' (Communication Map) is explained in some detail in Chapter 23 of Managing by Design, and in simple step form in Chapter 7 of How to Build a Better Business. It is also supported by a slide deck (161 KB), which is available on clicking the link above.

The Relationship Mapping approach to understand and explore communication needs is also supported by tools such as the Interrelationship Diagraph and the Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC). The first can be used to understand where communication already does take place, and the second to understand what information is required to make a decision (and therefore what communication needs to take place). While this is not the conventional use for these tools, it is easy to adapt them to look at decision making and communication. In theremore usual form, they are still useful to understand how communication can be used to ensure or avoid causality (depending whether it is a project or a problem that is being reviewed in the interrelationship diagraph) or to accelerate a project (as in the PDPC).

Quadrant Chart Reporting is an extremely powerful and efficient method of communicating confidence that progress and performnce is in control (or of highlighting quickly the fact that they are not). It is a tool that communicates execution of process responsibilitiy back up to the top level of the organisation. All of the salient information: KPIs, performance against forecast, analysis of deviations, and planned corrective actions are reported succinctly on one piece of paper which can be assimilated in less than a minute. Chapter 24 of Managing by Design provides a detailed explanation of the tool, and the following slide deck can be used to assist in their explanation to others. Finally, an Excel template exists which can (with care) be adapted for use in preparing Quadrant Charts.

Metrics Deployment Analysis (109 KB) is a simple tool to evaluate the extent to which critical factors in ensuring success are covered by effective measurement systems. Ideally, within QFD based systematic management such a tool would be superfluous, but we do not always start at the same place, and so the metrics deployment analysis provides a useful insight into the coincidence of responsibility and communication (or not) in organisations that have not yet implemented qfd, cascade deployment and quadrant charts

IPS (Inter-Personal Skills) and Facilitator Training represent the 20% of tools reflected on the Communication panel that are not about gaining clarity of focus over 'what' needs to be communicated, by 'whom' to 'whom'. But they are neverthes less vitally important components of ensuring the other 80% runs smoothly. InterPersonal Skills provide a basic skill set to ensure communication is efficient and conclusive, and Facilitator Training can help managers to adopt a role with their teams which helps to build clear understanding and commitment.

Pages 374-392 of Managing by Design can be found in Chapter 23 and Chapter 24 which can be read as pdf files (114 & 105 KB) by clicking the links above.

Chapter 7 of How To Build A Better Business can be read as a pdf file by clicking here.

Blank templates of this panel can be found in the Big Picture Storyboard file - these can be used to capture your own experiences and progress in this area (by annotating them either in PowerPoint, or as a printed panel), and then to physically cut and paste them onto the Big Picture to create your own storyboard of implementing systematic management in your organisation.

To explore another secion of the big picture, please click on the relevant area of the image below:

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