Whenever someone is not satisfied with the results of a measure, the abyss of order blur opens. Clients actually strive to formulate their wishes as comprehensibly as possible. Often the goals are even smartified with the participants or OKRs are worked out. The fulfillers are also ready for the job – actually, this is their business. The tasks are construed in the team and, if necessary, questions are asked in order to sharpen the request. Nevertheless, there are misunderstandings that lead to discord between the two parties.
The difficulties begin with the unspeakability of certain task elements and go to the impossibility to understand what has been said. As a result, the interpretations of an assignment do not match what was requested. If all participants were aware of the following difficulties and would stay in talk, there would be less frustration.
When not everything can be expressed In the beginning, there is the client with its ideas and feelings, which cannot be completely translated into words and certainly not into a one-hundred percent requirement. Thus, the descriptions of the task disappear behind vague terms – e.g. as always, good result, usual quality, according to the standards. Additional explanations increase the likelihood of being understood.
When further expectations hide behind the objectives Even if the objectives are increasingly smartified, i.e. results are specifically determined, measurable, adequately achievable with the available resources and relevant to the business, and progress can be tested, expectations remain in the dark – What should be done? What should be the results? What are the expected consequences? The expectations should be explicitly exchanged.
When the wrong language is used Many clients speak only in their own language and are surprised, when they are not understood. In the first step, of course, you should list your wishes in your own language. In the second step, however, the content must then be translated into the language of the project team; otherwise they CANNOT understand the assignment. It should become clear, what a mission means for the individual – for example, when globalizing, it does not affect the locals for the time being: Unless you take into account their fear of losing their jobs to foreign countries’. As soon as the effects become clear to the individual, the fears and worries and thus the resistance diminish.
When the order goes unheard The assignment is often placed through the narrow channel of the project order, when it is handed over to the project manager and the core team. As a result, the remaining participants often lack the original wording and the actual tasks go unheard. What remains is the Chinese whisper, when the project manager paraphrases, what he has heard and understood. Ensure that you can be heard personally.
When interest is missing The management style has a great influence on how motivating an assignment is formulated. More directive managers do not expect questions or objections, but immediate fulfilment of the duties. Cooperative bosses not only deliver the assignment, but also take the time to explain the task and address the team’s concerns. The order blur increases, if you ignore the employees‘ point of view. It is not only a question of the fact that the day-to-day business is already fully utilizing their capacities and therefore there is no time for additional tasks. It is about taking into account knowledge, experiences and objections, but also about personal interests, such as family, friends or the upcoming holiday, which nip any commitment in the bud. Mostly, the requirements can be adapted to the needs of the employees.
When everything is understood differently In the best case, everything is heard and the project team assumes that everything has been understood. Even then, the goals striven for by the client and the contractor can differ dramatically. Since not the actual meaning is exchanged, but words and perhaps numbers, the recipients decide on the contents of the request. According to the Sender-Receiver model and the Meta-model of Language, each job passes through a variety of filters that result in a changing task. If you talk about it regularly, both parties gradually adapt to each other and the result suits at the end both.
Without a regular exchange between the client and the contractor, the previous points lead to the fact that the deviations are only noticed at the end. For this reason, the agile approaches, which enable regular coordination at short intervals along the sprints as well as short distances for inquiries, are ideal.
Bottom line: Order blur lies in the nature of the thing – the communications. For this reason, special attention should be paid to the various stages, in which contracts are distorted and blurred. On the one hand, contracting authorities should assume that they cannot express all aspects of their project in such an exact way that they will be clearly understood and should therefore patiently take into account the inquiry of the contractors. On the other hand, contractors should not humbly accept the requirements and interpret them as they see fit, but rather ask questions and raise concerns. This mutual exchange ultimately leads to a common understanding that the order blur gets as low as possible.
If Socrates would have already known the term, one of his famous sayings would have been going like this – “I know that I know nothing outside of my informational bubble.” The fact that we cannot know what we do not know, is an uncomfortable situation. Since Gutenberg the availability of information has grown immeasurably by the mass media. Today we arrived in the Internet, where everybody can reach everybody, as long as they are found. In this complex world it is natural that the web pages are linked with like-minded ones – creationists link to creationists; supporters of the theory of evolution link to supporters of the theory of evolution. What constitutes these spheres? How can you get beyond the informational bubble?
The informational bubble is for example defined by the following aspects.
Consistency The cohesion in an informational bubble results from a consistent correlation. The individual components repeat and complement each other or even built on each other. In any case they never contradict themselves. For this purpose the necessary logic must be as simple and understandable as possible.
Language The consistency is guaranteed by a common language. The contributions always repeat a similar pattern. This leads over time to a High Context culture, which is only understandable from the outside and/or is interpreted in the wrong way. Informational bubbles subsist on their technical jargon.
Dogmatism Informational bubbles have to resist the tendency of influencing their consistency and their jargon. Different world views are as early as possible nipped by all means in the bud and are actively ignored. Repeating the contents through re-use is rewarded. Failure is defamed immediately, mostly as lack of knowledge or as lie or as fake news.
Internal linking An important function is the use of cross references within the own informational bubble. In the interest of consistency the link to opposite or other opinions is forbidden. Thus, a closed explanation system evolves that lacks openness and a discourse with other topics.
Filter The Internet insinuates complete accessibility. Therefore the net providers and the social platforms have the possibility to insert and in the meantime even the obligation to filter at any time. These filters prevent the visibility of certain web pages. Particularly countries and enterprises, which believe that they have to exercise control, can fade out undesired contents with simple measures and without being recognized immediately.
There is actually no way out of the bubble, except you have a look beyond your own nose. Additionally it needs:
Neutral search engines As long as there are overarching search engines, which can look into all informational bubbles, there is a large probability that you can look out of your own informational bubble. The problem is that one does not have any objective way of recognizing filtered contents except you get hints from other media or by word of mouth. You never know, what you don’t know.
General rules for filters In the best interest of maximum openness, rules for an open Internet should be defined. They should regulate technical blocking, the elimination of search results, the deactivation of web pages and self-censorship. In principle there are cases, in which filters are justified – pedophilia, terrorism, or the like. Unfortunately there is still no generally accepted interpretation, which web pages are to be filtered and which not.
Mutual tolerance The acceptance and connivance of other opinions is an approach, which is available for everybody, but for understandable reasons is not applied. The discussion of contrary positions would guarantee that the own approach gets more stable. Only with the appropriate tolerance, discourses become possible.
Bottom line: The informational bubble is a natural phenomenon. The common language, the necessity of consistent contents, the inherent convictions, consistent cross references and filters create an integrated approach. With neutral search engines, general rules for filters and common tolerance you can get beyond the informational bubble.
Most tasks require a lot of preparation, mental stamina and serious efforts, in order to prepare the results. With the appropriate engagement the outcomes are normally presentable. Occasionally there are chances to share the experiences with others. Eventually there is even a remarkable presentation set. In the crucial moment, when all eyes are directed on you, one stumbles and undermines oneself.
You could avoid most of the traps. The following bullets are some simple elements that you should evade in any cases.
Give an uncertain impression It all begins in the first seconds of the presentation. Hanging shoulders, lacking eye contact and a suffering facial expression without a trace of smile produce an incapable impression for the audience. The best content cannot compensate.
Arrogant appearance The opposite of an uncertain manner is the smug appearance that tells the listeners that they are dumb and should be grateful that one takes the time to explain the world to them. This begins with a cheeky greeting and goes to awkward teaching. Everybody knows how it works. Or not?
Speaking in an incomprehensible language “The intention of reminiscence is the reflection of the exorbitant quintessence that you forced upon by serendipity.” What a pity the good results are distorted by an incomprehensible language like this. It only takes many words, a set of subordinate clauses and links to exclude any meaning from a message. The target audience defines what they get. Who gives a Spaniard, who does not know English, a presentation in English. Or presents to a non-expert crowd information in an unknown jargon.
Load statement negatively “Unconsciously we do not believe that we cannot do many things and never know that we know nothing.” Although we are convinced that we control a lot instinctively and can always access our experiences, in order to contribute something. Words load a statement with energy that cramp the purpose – not, never, no, none, without, nothing, nobody. Prefixes are a fast way for negating, by putting them in advance: – a-social, in-competent, dis-informed, ir-relevant. In German you can even put words together, in order to give them an evaluation – gift+grün (bilious green), stink+fein (ritzy), or scheiß+freundlich (palsy-walsy).
Not getting ready for the event The safest way to fail is not to be prepared. To present off the cuff is a good idea in workshops or in other open situations. Presentations or sales talks without a clear operational sequence, ill prepared statements and unskillful exchange of thoughts are wasted opportunities for you and particularly for the audience.
Missing relation to the target group The reference to the target audience is created by the fact that you imagine previously the group with the mental eye. Although it consists of different individuals, who provide together a certain image – business types (e.g. developer vs. sales person), interests (e.g. vision vs. results) and attitudes (being vs. having). If you do not connect with the audience due to unawareness, you will inevitably fail.
The first step towards a solution is being aware of the previous bullets. Giving a sense of security, appearing modestly, expressing yourself clearly, and loading expressions positively, being prepared and connecting with the audience is the way out that however all have to develop for themselves.
Bottom line: The best result cannot be appreciated, if you undermine your own appearance by awkward behavior, an incomprehensible language and missing preparation. The effect that you get does not come for a large part from the conclusive and correct work result, but from the impression that you leave.
Transnational enterprises develop, produce and sell their deliverables worldwide. For this purpose, they need a self-understanding that integrates different ways of thinking under one supranational roof. Should this multi-cultural claim not always become visible?
The following bullet points provide indications, how far an enterprise fulfills its global self-conception.
Customers develop over time a glocal image of the enterprise, if local references are avoided and a brand or a product are in the focus of advertisement.
If the products are adapted to local conditions, like customer culture or prevailing market conditions, the customers can identify more easily with the enterprise.
National flags The flagging with banners of all countries that belong to the enterprise underlines the internationality of the enterprise.
Multilingual sign-posting The writing and language of the guide-posts within the locations should be at least in local AND English language or at best in all languages of the company.
Internationalized HR policy
The job offers should contain international requirements like mobility, multilingualism and interest in other cultures.
International board The board of a transnational enterprise should be composed out of various nationalities.
Truly transnational companies do not practice cultural imperialism, like Americanization, Europeanization or Chinaization. They have a global identity that integrates the various cultural strengths to an advantage for the enterprise.