Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Communication, Information and Coordination in Organizations Essay
In speaking of organizations I believe that how organizations communicate is an extremely key factor in success versus failure. The purpose of this paper is to talk about Communication, Information and Coordination, specifically Vertical and Lateral Coordination in organizations. I will reference the four different organizational frames we have learned about as a reference guide to explain how communication is viewed, as well as which types of organizations are best suited to use either a Vertical or Lateral Coordination methodology. When we began the term we laid down a foundation on the different types of frames that an organization can take on. I would like to briefly touch on the four frames and then show how communication is defined in each. The first frame is the Structural Frame, which, Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦emphasizes goals, specialized roles, and formal relationshipsÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 14) In this frame the organization ultimately uses Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦rules, policies, procedures and hierarchies to coordinate diverse activities into a unified strategy. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 4) As you can see with the definition above, communication is being done through a system of symbols, signs and or behavior. The organization creates the method for information to be passed and there is an expectation that it will be followed. In the structural frame communication is used to, Ã¢â¬Å"Transmit facts and information. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 307) You as an employee are simply taking information from the organ ization and using it accordingly as well as taking information you receive and passing it along. You as an individual are not analyzing the information, drawing any conclusions altering it, You are simply taking the information given to you and acting on it as given. The second frame is the Human Resource Frame. The Human Resource frame sees the organization, Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦much like an extended family, made up of individuals with needs, feelings, prejudices, skills and limitationsÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 14) In this frame the organization is made to fit the individuals that work there. The Human Resource Frame uses communication to Ã¢â¬Å"Exchange information, needs and feelings. (Bolman and Deal p. 307) The Human Resource Frame uses the individual as a conduit for information gathering and dispersal and is much more flexible in the delivery of information as opposed to the Structural Frame, which is more rigidly aligned. People are the most valued asset of an organization. The Human Resource Frame seeks to develop the individual employee in the organization rather than making them one step is a core process. The third frame is the Political Frame and sees organizations as Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦arenas, contests, or junglesÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 4) In the Political Frame all people in the organization are in constant competition to get ahead and one way to get ahead is to possess the power of information. In the Political Frame it is who and what you know and who you are willing to share your information with that gets you ahead. With all of the competition involved there is often conflict between those vying for power. The Political Frame sees communication as an opportunity to, Ã¢â¬Å"Influence or manipulate others. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 307) As stated previously, Information if a powerful tool. In a Political Frame possessing information and having the ability to communicate that formation is key. The problem with Politics is that often information is used destructively rather than constructively. In an organization influencing and manipulating can and usually is a double edged sword. Finally in the fourth frame is the Symbolic Frame is a more organic frame that is seen organizationally as, Ã¢â¬Å"Tribes, theaters, or carnivals. It abandons assumptions of rationality more prominent in other frames. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 5) This frame is not widely used because it is so free flowing and actually quite odd that it does not work well in many cases. However, the Symbolic Frame still address communication as a means to, Ã¢â¬Å"tell stories. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 307) Telling stories is a way often used to pass along information. Many cultures use stories to educate the next generation and the stories contain information that is important for the next generations to k now and preserve. In organizations, stories, tales and fables should not be seen as appropriate sources of information. Basically, all the frames acknowledge that communication is an essential part of their make-up. The ability to communicate, whether through rules and procedures, meetings and networks or stories is very important in the day-to-day operations of your organization. I now offer a definition of communication as found in WebsterÃ¢â¬â¢s Dictionary and I will use the definition to further explain the importance of communication and more specifically the communication of information through a coordinated effort. WebsterÃ¢â¬â¢s Dictionary defines Communication as: : an act of instance of transmitting 2 a: information communicated b: a verbal or written message 3 a: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior b: personal rapport 4 a: a system for communicating b: a system of routes for moving troops, supplies, and vehicles c: personnel engaged in communicating 5 a: a technique for expressing ideas effectively b: the technology of the transmission of information. Since the beginning of time man has attempted to communicate and as a result communication has constantly been improved. Thoughts, events and information have been recorded and passed along in some form or another for centuries, so you can see how communication is an essential part of everyday life. Knowing this you have to wonder how do we effectively communicate with each other? The above question has become and will always be a huge topic in society. People spend millions of dollars a year on counseling and learning techniques to better communicate with each other. Many people have capitalized on this quest for better communication skills and have become supposed experts in the field of communicating. You hear everyday how you need to be able to communicate better in your relationships, with your friends, peers and in general with everyone. So I look to the above definition to better clarify what exactly is meant by the various definitions of communication as I interpret them. I will use three of the definitions above and concentrate eon how they tie in with the theme of the paper, which is coordination. 2 a: Information communicated. 3 a: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior. Finally, 5 b: The technology of the transmission of information. I chose the above three definitions because they tie into a repetitive theme within communication and that is the passing of information. We have discussed in this class, throughout the term, that information is power and those who have information have a definite advantage. In an organization information is key to success. The organization that is able to establish a free flow of information will always be in a better position to succeed because they are in a position to be able to adapt more quickly in times where change is necessary. I am not suggesting that information always leads to change, because the information you receive could very well be that you need to continue what you are doing without changing. In particular IÃ¢â¬â¢d like to look at the second definition I chose which talks about information being exchanged through a common system of symbols, signs or behavior and IÃ¢â¬â¢d like to focus on behavior because the way your organization is aligned can ultimately affect your communicative behavior. In chapter three of Reframing Organizations we look see two types of coordination, which determine how information is passed and who processes it. The two types of coordination are Vertical and Lateral. Organizations that operate in stable markets and use a product that has little need for change are best suited for a Vertically coordinated organizational system. Organizations that operate in a turbulent environment and require constant change are best suited for a laterally coordinated organization. I will address both types and give an example of each below. In Vertical Coordination we see that the higher levels of management maintain control of information and regulate communications through establishing clear lines of authority, implementing rules and policies, and putting in place planning and control systems. By establishing authority the hierarchy appoints people such as executives, managers and supervisors to be in charge. This core group of people selected to have authority are, Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦officially charged with keeping activities aligned with goals. They control by making decisions, resolving conflicts, solving problems, evaluating performance and output, and distributing rewards and sanctionsÃ¢â¬ ¦Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and Deal p. 51) I can use my own situation as an example of this. Working in Law Enforcement I fall under a chain of command. In the chain of command I have been appointed a Sergeant. As a Sergeant I am charged with the tasks explained above. I communicate and pass information and orders to my subordinates. I receive my orders form my Commander, who in turn reports to a Captain and it goes right up the chain until it reaches the Sheriff. Information is communicated vertically through the ranks. Our organization aligned very closely with a Structural Frame Format. Not much emphasis is given to the Human Resource Frame, as the needs of the individual are not as much of a concern over the needs of the organization. The Political Frame is limited because the information is coming from the top and being disseminated down the ranks. Information obtained in Law Enforcement is normally transcribed in report format and given out. Information that is important and not given out could result in legal action. There is no chance for the Symbolic Frame to exist because we do not communicate organically nor are we allowed to report in a story fashion. In our private lives we can tell stories and relay information, however on an organizational level we deal strictly with fact. I derive my Authority from the chain of command and am regulated largely by the Policies and Procedures manual that my organization has constructed. The policies and procedures manual gives detailed instructions how to carry out tasks, how to monitor employees performance and conduct investigations. So in my personal career I can see that my organization is Vertically aligned. Information is communicated up and down the chain of command in clear-cut lines. Lateral communication and withholding information is discouraged and can lead to sever punishment. Although new technology is often introduced, the mission of Law Enforcement stays the same. As a result Law Enforcement uses vertical alignment to get information out as quickly and uniformly as possible. The opposite of the vertical form is the Lateral Form of Coordination. In Lateral Coordination several different methods are used to communicate and pass information. Lateral Coordination involves meetings, task forces, coordinating roles, matrix structures, and network organizations to communicate and pass on information. The above listed structures are more flexible and fluid than that of a rigidly defined Vertically Coordinated organization. I will briefly touch on the different methods used in the laterally coordinated systems. Meetings are described as, Ã¢â¬Å"informal communication and formal meetings form the cornerstone of lateral coordination. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and deal p. 53) Formal meetings are the normal way stable organizations go about communicating. Simple meetings can used be used to pass along large chunks of information as well as to address new business. As the organization grows in complexity and size, Task Forces are utilized. Task Forces are formed when, Ã¢â¬Å"Ã¢â¬ ¦problems or opportunities require collaboration of a number of specialties or functions. Ã¢â¬ (Bolman and deal p. 54) Collaboration requires cooperation and cooperation can only exist when there is communication. A Task Force gets a group of specialized people together to accomplish an organizational goal. Coordinating Roles take the talents of individuals and spread them out to help persuade others to accomplish goals. An individual can monitor several different areas to help tie all componets together to make a finished product. Matrix Structures are used when the organization grows very large and crosses several different sectors of the business world. Matrix Structures are very complex and can add a lot of confusion to your organization, which is why they have been used so sparingly. Finally, Networks are now a very common communicative form in organizations. Networks have always been in existence and have grown in usage since the advent of computer technology. Computer networks have the capability of transmitting almost limitless amounts of information immediately to a large-scale group of people. Computer Networks are now one of the most valuable tools an organization can use to communicate. Since an organization that coordinates laterally is generally one that operates in a turbulent and often changing environment it is easy to see why communication is essential. Information must be gathered, analyzed, processed and disseminated as quickly as possible to ensure that you will be able to keep up. An example of an organization that suffered because it failed to properly communicate and respond is the Digital Corporation. Digital Corporation was a leader in the minicomputer industry, however when the market shifted form minicomputers to PCÃ¢â¬â¢s they were too tied up in a non-productive coordination system. As a result they wasted valuable time in making the transition to the new technology. The company began to fail and was subsequently bought out by Compaq computers. The technology field, computers in particular, is changing on a daily basis. If you are not able to communicate the need for change based on the information received form current market trends then you are doomed to failure. Digital is a prime example of this concept. All of the above methods of Lateral Coordination are effective, however as with any system there are weaknesses. You must ensured that your resources are being used appropriately and efficiently in order to successfully maintain a more loosely coordinated method, as seen in the Lateral Coordination methodology. When you are not strict and rigid in your controls you run the risk of giving people too much freedom in their actions. Lateral Strategies are effective, however they must be monitored. In Conclusion, the coordinated communication of information within an organization is a key determinate of success versus failure. An organization, even one in a stable environment, must be fluid when it comes to communication. A lack of communication has been shown to result in the untimely delivery of crucial information and since we have identified that information is power, a lack of information will then render you powerless. By employing sound coordination methodologies and organization can better respond to itÃ¢â¬â¢s environment. As the environment changes so must the organization. The best way to know if your environment is changing is by properly gather and processing information form the various areas you deal in. Once processed and analyzed the information must quickly be communicated through the appropriate channels to ensure that necessary changes can be made. A breakdown in any one of these areas can and normally will have devastating effects. Many companies have experienced this firsthand. Coordination, Communication and Information are three keys that an organization must embrace in order to survive.