When Communication is a Problem

We all believe that communication is the key to all good relationships, whether these are of a personal or business nature.

Lately, when I’ve been told that “there’s a memo on that” or asked “have you read the manual,” I am reminded that there is also the type of communication that signals that something dysfunctional is going on.

I am sure that the originators of these hefty manuals think that they are providing just the help we need to navigate their systems.  They might genuinely not realize that the quantity of necessary explanation is a clue that they have developed a labyrinth for which governments are universally despised.  When we need a wheelbarrow for your instructions, the information volume itself is a key indicator of your poor performance.

The concept of paperwork reduction is not implemented by putting your manuals and processes on-line.  A 45 minute video on how to do a simple accounting entry is an abominable waste of my time.  To truly improve the customer’s experience, the systems themselves have to be re-invented.

Frustrated, I said to a colleague the other day – you don’t need a manual to “friend” someone on Facebook.  Why?  Because it is intuitive.  OK, so maybe Facebook is not the best example given how it changes its privacy rules every five minutes.  From my perspective the distinction is between good systems and bad systems, not between “good” private industry and “bad” government.

It is my hope that the smart phone generation will not only demand but will continue to create better systems – everywhere that they are needed.  But while you are creating the latest app, please don’t forget to apply your talents to government as well.  We need you!

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