email is not communication

Radical concept: to roll out new processes you need to talk to people. Firing emails at them does not count.

Janet Kuhn in a recent DITY Weekly Reader made a point that I wholeheartedly concur with:

The word ‘communicate’ stems from the verb ‘commune,’ an interchange of ideas or sentiments. Too often in our electronically charged world, we have forgotten the interchange part and rely solely on outgoing messaging to impart information. That is not communication; at best, it is a broadcast message to a community of interest.

Amen. I make this point regularly with clients. Sending out an email blast saying "Ta daaah! Here is the new process" is not communicating, let alone socialising it.

People won't read it. Even if they do, they won't absorb it. And even if a few of the more obsessive (or idle) actually do study it, they won't embrace it.

It takes more work to implement a process - to effect cultural change - than it does to design and create the process.

This is exactly analogous to software vendors who are "box-droppers". Just installing the software is a very small part of the total effort to get it working effectively in an organisation.

And just as you are wasting your investment in the software if you don't implement it properly - you are not getting the full ROI - so too with process. Publishing a form or printing a binder full of procedures or emailing out PDFs and links does not constitute "implementing" a process.

People used to talk once. And listen. Revive these lost arts to drive cultural change.


email is a great communication tool

My god, if I had to pick up the phone to give or receive the amount of information I process today, I would not have enough minutes in the day for anything else..

Get off emails back, its a great tool.. Just when abused or badly executed, it s&^ks like any other badly used tool.. I have sat in just as many training courses, workshops and other complete wastes of time parading as "communicating"

The chimp should have got onto the "commune" analysis of word communication. Certainly communication and commune share "common" as the root, but communication is derivative from the different branch. The dictionary states "to impart, share" Neither of these things infer two way communication..

The limitation of email is that it does not create "engagement" in its content. If it comes from your boss, you are engaged. If the subject line has some attractiveness for you then you are engaged.

People need to stop thinking in terms of bad and good or right and wrong.. Its all about the most appropriate way of doing things.. It is the same for communication as it is for ITIL adoption/adaption etc. etc..

Brad Vaughan

Remember my post...

at on Information vs. Relationships about "Worknets."

still a big fan of social networking

I do and still love it. In the light of this post let me say I am still a big fan of social networking and collaborative tools (a longer title but more meaningful than "web 2.0") in their place. CMDB just isn't their place. I'm a big fan of infrared remotes too, but I don't need one on my shower.

I agree "but"

I agree, but its important to have a multi-proned communication strategy.. If you set our to "commune" with everyone, you can create alot of cost and in fact create stress in the lives of folks who don't really want to be "communed" with..

I spent a while living with a organization psychologist who specialized in the relationship between information, control and work stress. Its also backed up from personal experience. Some people just want to get the details on the process and do the work. For these people, a document, online instruction (probably not a email) is good enough. Really depends on the volume of people you need to communicate with. You can even consider train the trainer strategies if you want a more personalised approach.

The "Change Acceptance Process" is different for everyone, you need to recognise your target groups, what they need for communication and act accordingly.

Brad Vaughan

Communication is a loop

I have said for years that email is one of the worst communication tools possible.
Its passive, has no emotion, and your message gets drowned out by the shear bulk of information people are trying to manage in their inboxes.
Why is it so hard for people to actually pick up a phone and talk to each other?

A lesson learned about this...I taught an IT Service Managers course in Caracas Venezuela years ago. We were taking apart ITIL's nine steps for communication, when one of the attendees made a comment. He said "in Spanish what we are talking about is information, because its one way" we spent the better part of the morning discussing how to build in feed back loops to a communication strategy.

Broke its implementation into three elements, all have value.
1) Awareness Campaign; marketing the message
2) Information Plan; broadcasting the desired data, educating people
3) Communication Plan; creating ways to send the message and verify its comprehension in your teams/ management and sponsor.

Since then I always ask 2 compelling questions when doing the work.
Whats the core message you want people to understand?
How will you recognise that they understand the message?

It is surprising how challenging these simple questions can be to a sponsor or champion. I can't help feeling that somehow the answers to them tie directly into the business case discussion.

All the best,

Service Transformation Communication


I agree with your communication plan and it's three elements.

After some years as a consultant for implementing Service Management in IT Departments, I wanted to see first hand how it feels to go through such a change. So I accepted a job in an IT department which was undergoing a Service Management transformation.

I have now completely gone through the cycle of the E-mails, Town Hall Meetings, Departmental Meetings. I must say that the communication has been very effective because I can now explain the core message and the reasons why the transformation is taking place. And this is because of the repitition of the message in the variety of mediums that have been used to deliver it.

E-mail has been a good tool to supplement and assist with some of the tasks in the communication plan.

I heard once that 90% of communication is non verbal. If you send an e-mail you should be prepared to walk the talk in face to face meetings with those involved.

totally agree!

Anyone who has set out on the savage journey to ITSM excellence knows this all too well. The barriers to effective and efficient cross-silo collaboration are many, and people are always at the heart of the matter.

I still believe that monitoring intelligence can provide a way to help break down some of these barriers (See The Event Management Gap ), but it is alas, merely a tool. It takes patience, understanding and persistence to change culture. It is often social capital, not financial capital, that's often lacking in IT.

Much harder to develop.

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

Syndicate content