|Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 16:05:29 -0700|
04 00069 61 99072301
Mr. Morris E. Jones
Director of Architecture
350 East Plumeria; Mail Stop CHP02-1
San Jose, CA 95124
|Subject:||Intelligence and Communication|
Here is a letter that might help illustrate for busy people the meaning of intelligence in the context of Communication Metrics. The letter to doctor Sylvia Connolly, at Kaiser Medical Group, aligns a recent article on CEO failure published in Fortune magazine, with the definition of meaning, and with guidelines on partnership set out in Kaiser's manual on doctor/patient communication.
You mentioned recently that adding an intelligence role seems redundant to colleagues.
At first blush this is a correct view, as set out in POIMS.
However, what is overlooked, by some, is that intelligence adds a component ofalignment, which is missing from writing under conventional management practice. My letter to you on June 28 made this point, but was not aligned with your experience. Possibly adding alignment that was previously missing will clarify the advantage of alignment in the intelligence process. On March 3, 1995, at Burger King, you drew out, on the back of a napkin, a bow and arrow to illustrate alignment in the management context. The letter to Kaiser has some links that explain the tenuousness of meaning. Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, describes this problem as the ambiguity of mental maps. Grove says that writing copious notes, i.e., written analysis, helps avoid mistakes caused by ambiguity. I am pretty sure that adding alignment to analysis enhances Andy's solution, and that providing a common story, linked to common experience, helps maintain alignment of a team, as you illustrated with the bow and arrow diagram at Burger King in 1995, in like manner that history builds a common culture for a nation. Distributing the common story via Internet shortens the time for making history useful in an organization. In POIMS, this is called recycling intellectual capital, as a fundamental law of conservation for the practice of management.
Timely history, i.e.,alignment with commitments, goals and requirements, is a key part of communication that is added by intelligence. Granted, it is hard to remember how to explain this to busy people when the moment demands a 30 second comment. It is equally hard to put our finger on the right document or email that explain complex ideas, even when we have taken the trouble to draw an illuminating diagram. One year, you took the crew to the Exploratorium for bonding. This year take them to Burger King, where great ideas are launched.
You may recall we worked on the bow and arrow diagram again on April 5, 1998 at your home in Saratoga. At that time you noted the importance of analysis. Accordingly, analysis, supported by intelligence, justifies support by those aiming to improve leadership and management. Linking chronologies of cause and effect, described in the NSF proposal, provides alignment that builds and maintains shared meaning, essential for effective cooperation. As you know from experience, SDS supports all of the criteria prescribed in Communication Metrics for useful intelligence: analysis, alignment, organization, summary linked to detail, and feedback.
It feels good to ignore intelligence as funny, alien and off-the-wall. But, the consequences of omitting intelligence is conflicting meaning in the minds of people, rather than shared meaning. When each person is working from their own story, rather than a common story, conflicts in meaning cause incorrect actions. Conflictingmeaning due to lack of alignment, causes mistakes, delay, loss, stress, anxiety, and crises everyday, all day long, everywhere. Andy Grove calls lack of alignment between what people say, and what they actually do, day-to-day: strategic dissonance. That is a high sounding term for "big problem."
People often don't feel the problem in the moment, because harm from miscommunication is insidious, i.e., disconnected in time and place. As well, people don't know the problem of conflicting meaning can be solved, and so are initially inclined to discount the prospect of a solution. That is the real challenge: overcoming ignorance that breeds fear and denial. So, we keep explaining, and using the system to show what we mean by building and maintaining shared meaning. Only new experience can yield meaning that beyond is existing experience. We have to find ways to let people gain this experience.
Grove notes in his book that, like others, Intel has tried letting people scream at each other, as a mass therapy session, to remedy divergent meaning. Since screaming does not improve understanding, maybe someone will approve intelligence.
Show that bow and arrow -- maybe the guys will get it.
See what you think.
THE WELCH COMPANY