Democratization of Workplace Communication

By Frank Kenna

In an article in Sunday’s New York Times, Tom Friedman wrote a great editorial about how technology is changing everything through what he terms, “democratization.” He gave examples in the information, war-fighting, innovation and political expectation areas.

It occurred to me that his theories also apply to a narrower slice of life, the workplace.  Check out these quotes from the article:

“The days of leading countries or companies via a one-way conversation are over,” says Dov Seidman, the C.E.O. of LRN and the author of the book “How.”

“The old system of ‘command and control’ — using carrots and sticks — to exert power over people is fast being replaced by ‘connect and collaborate’ — to generate power through people.”

“Now you have to have a two-way conversation that connects deeply with your citizens or customers or employees.”

Luckily, workplace technology has kept up with these sweeping social changes.  Digital Signage, and the associated follow-on technologies are providing managers with the tools to communicate to – and hear back from – their employees.

In the “old days” (translate: 3 years ago), most workplace communication was one-way.  Managers communicated to their employees and didn’t get too much back. The mechanisms just weren’t there.  Today, not only are the technologies in place to easily communicate both ways, but everyone is conditioned to expect it.  One-way communication is quickly becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

Putting the correct technologies in place is a challenge for companies, as the choices are not just which vendor to use, but also which core technologies to employ.  In my next blog I’ll look at some of the technological choices that are available for workplace communications, along with their pluses and minuses.

Jude Carter
December 20, 2011

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