There is a game called Chinese Whispers, I am sure you have played it. All you do is line a group of people up and ask them to whisper a message from one to another along the chain. Each time it is repeated the message morphs; progressively degrading the further it gets from its source.
There is a meeting in Wembley
There is a meeting on Wednesday
There is a meeting on Thursday
Let’s have a meeting I’m thirsty
We are all going to the pub for a drink
It is a very funny but childish game. As adults we are too clever to play such games. We play a different, far more sophisticated game.
First line up a group of complicated organisations, something like:
- A supermarket
- A wholesaler
- A fizzy drinks manufacturer
- A corn syrup manufacturer
- A farming co-operative.
Choose something suitable for your industry.
Next issue a simple instruction from the beginning of the chain, something like:
All our products will be organic
Finally, and this is important, make sure that the organisations in the chain can only communicate with each other “in-writing” (e-mail is OK).
Then stand back and watch what happens.
For the advanced version of the game, subdivide the businesses into departments, maybe something like marketing, sales, operations, logistics and purchasing and make them sit in different parts of the building. (There is no need to enforce the “in-writing” rule, they will adopt it naturally).
Nobody could be that foolish
As any teacher will tell you communicating with children works far better if you get them all to sit down in the same room at the same time and ask them to listen, whilst you explain what you want clearly and simply.
Instead of playing management whispers you could try the same approach. You could even listen back and have a proper conversation.
But where would the fun be in that?
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Image by rthakrar