Sharing Thoughts Requires Thinking

Dilbert%20comicsMost communication is thoughtless! Or maybe it isn’t, but it is based on simplicity – because a trend nowadays is to believe that a complex message will not be understood.

Simplicity can be great: boiling down a long discussion to its essential meaning and conclusion is often needed in order to even know what that conclusion might be. But trying to save time by jumping right to it is not the way forward.

Quite often we see people talking to each other like Dilbert and his boss in this cartoon. It might be a consultant telling why a new philosophy is good, or it might be the boss explaining to the employees why this new thing must now be implemented.

Paragraphs of potential meaning are boiled down to phrases of hollow words about nothing – is it then so strange that the implementation fails? What was its purpose in the first place? How could anyone identify a success if it happened?

If being understood is not a goal, there will most likely be no understanding. If sounding wise or considerate is the goal rather than being wise or considerate, then maybe the plans will get accepted in about the same way as the emperor’s new clothes. Nobody really understands anything but everybody decides to play the game – in the hope that either it will end quietly or they will eventually understand what it is all about.

But if there are no thoughts behind the plans, if no one has actually done any thinking before communicating them – then there is nothing to understand and the plans will not lead to any results. The communication will not be an exchange of thoughts but simply an exchange of words.

Words are good for prose, poems, dreams and for Tom Tom Club’s wonderful Wordy Rappinghood.

But if you want to have success with a plan it needs an idea, which needs some thoughts. These could come from an analysis. And the analysis could be made in such a way that it itself would ensure a thought-based communication – so that thoughts would be shared, the idea developed, and accommodation reached.

One method for analysis is the Soft Systems Methodology, described in several books by Peter Checkland et al.

I see the Soft Systems Methodology as exactly a means to ensuring this accommodation – by exchanging thoughts in a problem analysis context the participants will not only outline possible solutions, they will also get to understand the needs and considerations of their peers.

And this understanding will be needed in the implementation of the chosen solution, as it helps ensuring that all are aware of how they must and can help each other in order to move in the same direction.

In this way thinking, sharing, and communicating will be one integrated activity.

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5 Responses to Sharing Thoughts Requires Thinking

  1. See also the discussion about this topic/post in the LinkedIn group – Business Analyst Community.

  2. Pingback: The KISS of Death – How Simplicity Can Ruin Everything | The No Crisis Blog

  3. Julia De Meo says:

    What a shame, you have burst so many bubbles – happy, we are all on the same wavelength bubbles – lol Does that mean we all have to work on communicating effectively now?

    • Bursting bobbles is neccesary from time to time – not for killing optimism or dreams, but for adding that element of thought which is required for dreams to come true.

      And yes, I think that it is about time to stop praising simplicity in communication and start prasing contents and value 🙂 It doesn’t have to be effective. On the contrary: at times, it will be good with communications that leads to no obvious result other than having induced thinking. Like good teachers do: they do not tell, they ask.

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