Sunday, February 11, 2007


The learning journey continues...

As we start 2007 and our normal working routines, I find myself back at my part time lecturing at Birkbeck College, University of London with my class of 23. This semester, we are looking at ‘Understanding Organisations’. What underpins this subject is an appreciation of what makes up an organisation - not the bricks and mortar, environment or culture - but the people who work in it.

Communication, as ever, plays a vital role. Some of the work my students handed in just before Christmas, made clear that communication and understanding each other (they had just completed a group presentation project) was the hardest thing to get right. Yet, it was the most rewarding when done effectively and many of them highlighted this personal development in their reflection work afterwards.

Another situation where communication was highlighted as being the vital ‘change factor’ was on television these last few nights (8-10 Jan) featuring a series of programmes charting the progress (?) of a certain business guru, Gerry Robinson, who believes that any organisation can be made to run well. The programmes charted his visits to Rotherham General Hospital, which were to reduce waiting times over a six month period. Each of them seemed to have the same underlying message – lack of communication (and subsequent action) between certain parties within the hospitals themselves. The scenes that I saw showed him getting people together and talking to each other about the problems and how they wanted to see them resolved.

What struck me what not only the simplicity of what he was trying to do, but the fact that getting people to talk to each other is only part of the solution, he needed to somehow help them to listen as well as hear what was being said.

All of this is great if you can hear, but what about those who can’t? Often people who are deaf or hard of hearing, listen better than those of us who have so-called 'good' hearing.

So my three messages from this little mid week reflection?

  • If you don't want to know the answer, then don't ask the question
  • If you ask the question, then have the good grace to really listen to the answer
  • Support those who have difficulties with hearing because they have good ideas and need to be listened to as well


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