Conversational paradigm LO6092
Wed, 13 Mar 1996 02:02:17 -0800

Replying to "What are orgs for?" LO6004 --

In response to Alan's comments on 'public pronouncements':

> Public pronouncements about the purpose often backfire - customers,
> suppliers and staff see that reality is different and dismiss the
> statements as management's latest fad. I believe employees will only get
> the message when they see top management living it, walking the talk,
> working with the values implicit in the purpose, choosing difficult
> courses of action consistent with the purpose and values rather than the
> easy way out.

This happens on an uncounscious level as well as the conscious dismissal
of <the statements as management's latest fad>.

In the late '70s I was a computer programmer/analyst in IBM. I worked in a
software development/maintenance organization in upstate NY. One morning
we had an awards breakfast because we had successfully achieved some
significant goal.

We had a breakfast, then the Director spoke and gave out some awards and
promotions. He then turned the program over to a Corporate VP who was
there to 'kick-off' a "Quality is Free" program for our organization.

His content was a) do it right the first time, and b) if it doesn't work,
stop everything and fix it, don't go around the problem. But the way he
presented his message was a violation of that message.

He turned on the overhead projector and discovered that it only projected
half the screen (he was in the room for 90 minutes before he got up to
talk and he had not checked to make sure that it would work).

Also his transparancies were copies of copies of letters from the
President of IBM telling someone else (_not_ this organization) how
committed IBM was to 'quality'. The print was too small to read (even if
the copies _had_ been good enough to read).

With his bad field of view and showing poor quality transparancies, he
said, "For those of you who cannot read this, let me read it for you."

So, he violated the content of his message with the message of his
actions. He showed that you do not have to do it right the first time and
if it doesn't work, its okay go around the problem.

Sister organizations at the same site with similar missions were very
successful in implementing quality programs, but this organization never
got it off the ground. (I wonder why?)

In the face of strong incongruity, people will feel uneasy and they will
often (usually?) take the non-verbal message.

What is _really_ amazing to me is that this Corporate VP had an incredible
opportunity to dramatically and permanently install his two quality
principles in this organization. If he had used the 'bad' circumstances to
show how to 'be' quality a) demand a better projector without contuinuing
until it arrived and b) have high quality materials and c) personally
deliver a letter from the President to our Director (to be read aloud in
the meeting) telling our Director that the corporation is committed to
'quality', etc. .

What percentage of our communication is the content and what percentage is
the non-verbal part?


Rodger Bailey

Designing and Auditing Interventions

Using the LAB Profile System: - for Understanding, Predicting, and Influencing - the Thinking and Behavior - of Individuals, Organizations, and Cultures

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