hulahoop061808.jpgthe loop, /lup/ –noun: a group or network of insiders or influential people

As the leader of an organization, I need to know what is going on, to keep my finger on the pulse, to be up to date on what is happening. In essence, I need to be in the communication loop. This is harder than you might think. People tend not to realize how what they do impacts others. And since they cannot know what they do not know, they often do not realize when others might be able to contribute.

I preach sharing of information like a religion and its first postulate is that the information should be:

– well organized

– have succinct and pithy headlines, and

– a body well decorated with bullet points!

There are three kinds of communication loops:

Decision loops: I tell people that as chairman, as owner, as a strategic leader, I want to be in relatively few decision loops, where nothing happens unless I approve.

Veto loops: I want to be in many more veto loops, where things progress unless I say otherwise within a specified period, say 24 hours. I rarely veto anything, usually opining with some directional thoughts or tweaking and let it go.

Information loops: I want to be in LOTS of information loops. I subscribe to virtually every email list in our company. I open relatively few; simply viewing the headlines before I delete them gives me a good feel for what is going on.

I have worked hard to communicate the different types of communication loops and to get people to feel comfortable sharing information, particularly when projects are in their inchoate stage. Some people feel the need to control information, attempting to perform a sort of image management. Unfortunately, that approach slows processes, tends to stifle creativity, and rarely results in fully taking advantage of a team’s knowledge and experience.

I tend to be a bit ADHD; perhaps I’m more comfortable than some absorbing raw data or massive amounts of information. But I think there is a lot to be said for encouraging free-flowing information, for attempting to get input from as diverse a group as possible, for tapping into as wide a collective knowledge and experience bank as possible.