From the experiences, I have had in organizations that work to combine autonomy, mastery and purpose, the level of performance goes up and becomes the new norm of corporate performance. The many studies of motivation underscore that when autonomy, mastery and purpose are combined, long-term learning and motivation occur (Ramsey, 2010). The communication networks and channels within organizations are accentuated and made more effective when these three attributes become the foundation of long-term learning and growth over time.
In conclusion, the culture, incentive, and leadership within a given organization have a major impact on the effectiveness of communication networks and channels within organizations. When there is a transformational mindset about aggregating content, data and information then transforming it from a system of record to competitive advantage, companies can use their expertise to compete more effectively. In many respects, this ability to compete more effectively based on better use of information and knowledge is the best Return on Investment (ROI) from investing in communication networks and channels over the long-term. Studies of the Toyota Production System support this conclusion from a supplier collaboration and cross-supplier knowledge-sharing standpoint.
Assessing the Impact of Technology on Communication
The most critical catalyst of communication is trust, and as paradoxical as the heavy promotion of social networks are, the wavering policies of these applications in privacy is troubling. Facebook specifically has said that any information shared on its pages or applications is considered public (Zimmer, 2010). This fact hasn't slowed down the torrent of information being shared daily, with the accompanying growth in advertising, e-commerce, product and services applications as well. Ironically, the social networking technologies that are gaining so much interest and followers today just underscore how critical the fundamental aspects of performance communication are. Trust and transparency have emerged as more critical than ever for organizational and personal communication to flourish.
Previous generations of technology concentrated on mostly enabling unidirectional communication that sought to successfully get messages from one location to another. The development of collaborative technologies, starting with e-mail and progressing into Web 2.0-based technologies are revolutionizing communications at the individual, network and channel levels of organizations. Web 2.0 defined as a series of design objectives that pervade social networking applications today (Bernoff, Li, 2008). Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle (Andriole, 2010) originally defined the fundamental structure of Web 2.0 as a series of design considerations and direction of collaborative applications. Their initial design has become a standard and is shown as a meme map in Figure 1. A meme map is by definition a graphical description of dominant trends on a topic as charted from its use on the Internet.
Web 2.0 technologies form the blueprint or foundation of many of the social networks in use today and as a result, are completely changing how people rely on technology to communicate (Bernoff, Li, 2008). With the goal of having the Web as a platform, these technologies are providing greater levels of interaction that has ever been possible before. Millions globally to connect are using Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter and many other social networks today and share stories, which further accentuate communication, all predicated on the Web 2.0 technologies and design goals shown in figure 1.
The implication of this proliferation of technologies on communication is complex however and leads to a greater focus on trust and open communication over just the accumulation of followers or friends online. This demarcation line is beginning to emerge of online friends or acquaintances one may never actually meet in person, and the friends and acquaintances one knows and sees every day. Too often people share too much information with those they have never met in person, which creates for awkward communication in the short-term and potential of over-communication in the long-term. Technologies are making it possible to over-share and over-communicate ones' status, even location through Foursquare and the location options in Facebook (Bernoff, Li, 2008). What is needed is a balance in how one shares information online and how one either chooses to differentiate communication based on the friends they have met in person and connect with online vs. those only met and interacted with virtually. Technologies are making it possible to share more about ourselves and communicate with complete transparency; the issue is whether it is a good idea or not and again, back to the pivot point of this analysis, trust. The fact that many trust others online to the same level they do friends they have met in person puts the paradox of information shared on social networks into an entirely different dimension of legality and confidentiality (Zimmer, 2010). The fact that any successful communication and relationship over the long-term needs trust to survive is often lost in the rush to acquire yet more followers and friends -- in short status -- on social networks.
It's been my experience that the neediness and loneliness of people gets amplified on social networks. My friends, many of them attending school on the other side of the country, can be found on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn chatting well into the early hours of the morning. The chatting is not necessarily with anyone; it is out into the social network audience itself. It makes me think that in many ways social networks have so rapidly evolved because so many in society feel so isolated today, coupled with the "instant" celebrity promise of a high friend or follower count. Yet this even seems paradoxical to me, because it is not in the number of friends one has in person or online that count, it is the quality of those relationships that matter most. Social networks have definitely accentuated the ability to connect and share information and strengthen relationships with others, it is accelerating communication in this regard. The one caveat or cautionary note is that it can become an echo chamber of sorts, were loneliness or boredom is amplified. Paradoxically however, this just further supports the point of this analysis, and that is for true communication to be effective, trust and transparency must always be the goal first, not the pursuit of status.
Trust and transparency have emerged as more critical than ever for organizational and personal communication to flourish. Without trust, organizations would not be able to quickly and with agility change to meet market requirements. Transformational leaders' effectiveness is predicated on strong trust and a focus on being able to infuse autonomy, mastery and purpose into an organizational structure. The ability of any organization to compete on knowledge and transform it into a competitive advantage is based on effective communication. Technologies are enabling these changes to occur yet paradoxically the more always on, instant and transparent technology makes communication, the greater trust matters. It is as if the developments of the last ten years are stripping away all the impediments to greater communication and putting the most relevant aspects of it in the middle of how people work together.
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