An Analysis of RIS Communication Ron McCoy - Communication Essay Example
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Communication has been a topic of discussion, no pun intended, since the dawn of modern civilization, and in many respects even pre-biblical time. “The importance of communication was first recognized, though in a negative way, as early as 500 BC when a Greek Historian noted that the slave labor forces in Egypt were guarded by soldiers who were unable to speak their language” (Hargreaves, 1977). More recently however, communication in business has intrigued scholars and writers alike, fascinating them with curiosity about the dynamics of processes and inter-workings of modern day business culture. While the reason why we communicate might seem obvious to many, there are many more facets to why then one might imagine.
John Hargreaves, an author and communication consultant, addresses the question of why we communicate. Hargreaves writes, “… the inability either to listen or to convey understanding to the recipients of a message can be seen to lie at the root of many of our industrial problems” (Ibid.p. 3).
We communicate in many ways, all of which will be thoroughly discussed later, however why we bother to communicate at all should be delved upon. “To put things at their most clinical, efforts of business are directed to a single end, namely, getting the job done” (Ibid., p. 7). Continuing on, Hargreaves describes obtaining this objective; that is “getting the job done”, as “necessary to satisfy the needs of those who have a stake in the organization – its employees, customers, shareholders and the community – and to make the optimum use of capital, material and human resources” (Ibid., p. 7).
In breaking this definition down one can see several critical factors involved in our primary goal in business communication of “getting the job done.” We can see that Hargreaves divides the goal into two primary sources; [satisfying the needs of] those who have a stake in the organization and making the most optimum use of the organizations resources. The first aspect of his definition discusses those that have a stake in the organization. These include employees, customers, shareholders and the community. The second aspect of his definition discusses making the most “optimum use of capital, material, and human resources” (Ibid., p. 7). How we communicate, is critical to all areas of our lives.
To elucidate the problems which may take place between the company’s units (organizational segments) almost always takes a deep insight into the type of business the company pursues. The company’s external communicational strategy in whole and the role each unit plays with respect to its external media coverage bears the signs of operational activity of the company. It may often be so that intra-corporate communication problems (for example and as construed from subject-biased perspective, lack of timely basis, sporadic contacts upon ‘issue of emergence’,etc.) are common to many different companies but it is only in the context of each company’s distinct external communication policy and its relative weight in overall company’s efficiency that those similar problems turn to have unique effect on performance.
Therefore, the research proposed tends to give special regard to external communication, in particular to message formations, message bearers and communication strategy currently in use. Author will try to elucidate communication problems as seen through eyes of relevant audiences. Designed to this end questionnaires will assess message and frequency components of corporate communication as well as communication routes which used to transit certain messages.
Even from introduction were author tried to show how communication permeates all possible aspects of company’s performance reader could gather several plausible ‘problem areas’ discernible within every company. Suffice it to say that author focused only on one of the field of salient research problems. However, with regard to particular orientation of the research, that is, probing into specific industry and application of relevant scientific theories and industry trends to explicating of communication problems within specific company, the problem at investigation may hardly be of more importance.
The problem this research study addresses is establishing of cost-effective corporate communication within RIS. By cost-effective corporate communication I imply communication adequate to comply with company’s performance goals while being attainable at the lowest possible cost. In this regard, I propose to break down ‘cost-effective’ term as related to communication into effective communication and low cost communication. It is by combining effectiveness and [low] cost that communication may execute its primary mission of being both the load and the vehicle that has to constantly sell and be sold between the company’s units to keep the company selling into the external market.
Author intentionally departed from assessing the degrees of sufficiency of communication (ie lack or abundance). Although being presumptuous my positions is that no communication can be lacking in/be overflowed with intensity. I see that communication scheme adopted or endogenously ingrained within the company possess every potential of intensity it needs as long as the company goes on. So talking about existent companies we may only assess effectiveness of distribution of communication intensity, ie effectiveness message development, credibility factor, sender/receiver relations, effectiveness of media elected, correspondence of all communication variables and process to agreed communication scheme/plan/diagram. In case a company goes down and dies there emerges no need to talk about communication since the subject is gone. Therefore, I propose to view communication as rigorous process characterized by Constant Intensity at the output (external determinant) and Diverse Internal Dynamics with its bulbs, bottlenecks, etc which lends itself to human apprehension and management (internal determinant).
In this regard, the problem statement as ‘establishing cost-effective corporate communication within RIS’ allows to spot current bottlenecks or slowdown in dynamics in certain fields and to rectify it by re-location of communicative efforts to secure the best effect at the lowest cost. For example, a company may rely heavily on one type of communication, say, remuneration. In residential real estate franchise high rates of agent fees are one of the major means of communication which carries unequivocal and explicit message enabling those who propose such fee to recruit the most active and experienced agents. This may be a basis of corporate strategy which translate itself into communication strategy. Although, while retaining luring agent fees may well be a cornerstone and a single prominent element of corporate strategy in general, it never can have such status in communication strategy. Communication needs to take use of distinct and balanced set of means, remuneration being one of them. It is easy to infere that excessive concentration on remuneration as a communicative mean leaves other means underdeveloped thus creating problems which potentially might overthrow the beneficial effects of remuneration message, in particular, its recruiting effect. Having left without due attention database development, on-line support/wireless technology or development of service package, ie closing might as well freeze agents benefits level at certain mark and thus impose a constraints on their initiative or even make them leave. In this regard, cost-effective communication perspective might propose cost-effective distribution of communication flow so as to re-invent other expedient communication means. That will be done at the expense of one of the existent communication means: cost-efficiency is attained not by increasing overall input of resources into communication realm but through re-distribution of existent resources in more effective way. Even if rate of agent fees might fall agents will still be stimulated to work with the company because improved information backing will enable them to earn more in overall terms.
Research problem as stated previously needs elucidating in intra-corporate context foremost. Still author is convinced that at the stage of development (appropriating) of methodology it is hard to elude extra-corporate communication context. Specifically, process of developing structure or map of effective communication, which though being out of the focus of the present narrative is constantly implicit in the study, absolutely demands grounding oneself in the environment. As company’s strategic communication structure or map is in fact a focal point of its internal productive activity and external marketing activity it is in no way that we might elude referring to extra-corporate communication context. Among environmental topics which needs to be appropriated within communication strategy are the industry and the marketplace, ways in which customers perceive products and services, influentials’ perceptions of the company, views of key constituents, such as owners, interest groups, communities and regulators, etc. They all need deliberate analysis which will result in working out means by which customer thinking is reflected in messages and media. Its this concentrated representation of extra-corporate communication process that wants to be reflected when drafting the company’s internal communication structure and the company’s communication style. Therefore, research problem stated as ‘establishing cost-effective corporate communication within RIS’ will encompass both extra-corporate communication contexts (so far as necessary) and intra-corporate one.
Integrating of Problem statement to Current situation of the company.
In 1997 Help-U-Sell was reborn with new ownership, and a new infusion of capital. Because Help-U-Sell wants to differentiate themselves from other real estate franchise organizations, they have chosen to focus their efforts on producing highly profitable and efficient offices through the use of market research. The underlying premise is that we are currently having inefficient communication structure primary symptoms to which are low dynamics/low efficiency staff communication. This symptoms of the problem unfolded relatively progressively due to the steady rapid growth in franchise sales and a lack in additional capital infusion for additional staff. Additionally, time has an issue for hiring the needed staff, thus fulfilling critical necessities. Currently, various staff performs various jobs scattered throughout the continental United States.
One aspect of the problem is that franchisees often times see the discontent amongst staff as well as gaps in service and follow-up. In this regard research intends to find out wether communication process in the company meets legitimate expectations of/complies with efficiency requirements set in the company and if not how exactly communication is ineffective. When further protruded this objectives (elucidated in detail in Research Objectives section) calls in another group of collateral research problems instrumental in attaining overall positive research result:
1) problem of concord between internal and external communication, ie coherence of productive and marketing spheres.
2) problem of message and media development and their matching.
1. Corporate communication is never perfect: it either improves or deteriorates.
2. No efficiency-based objective might emerge if precise measurement/benchmark system was never introduced.
The critical research objectives are:
· To find out whether communication process within the company is effective enough (with due regard of problems of benchmarking, measurement, etc) and if not (which is the assumption of the study since no communication structure is perfect) how exactly it has been ineffective.
· To analyze effectiveness of ‘message’ component of communication
· To analyze ‘media’ component of communication
· To arrive at agreed and balanced communication strategy
Author is especially interested in assessing RIS company’s perspective and investigating the efficiency of communication chain in that specific company. By focusing on both theoretical approaches and applied techniques author continuously will try to insure the best attention to the company’s communication peculiarities and will consider every methodological vista only inasmuch as it relates to the company concerned. Author is fully aware of certain constraints the like approach may impose. It may especially affect the way certain general theories of communication will be elucidated and to that end the only plausible solution seems to be in that some concepts will be held as implied and will be briefly communicated upon by referencing to the originator(s).
In whole, author pursues a distinct and structured set of objectives. What makes it distinct is that it combines common research objectives best described by ‘finding out whether communication structure is efficient enough in overall and particular terms’ formula and specific research objectives described by ‘how exactly it has been ineffective where it needs improvement’ question. As a matter of fact such combined approach entails rather complicated methodology which will adequately serve the end of both ‘probing in’ and Nevertheless, author is much satisfied that the proposed research objective which though being burdensome fully replicates those objectives which professional managerial staff constantly sets when striving for corporate communication improvement. No doubt, creating diagnosable and self-improving communication system is hardly possible without both finding out communication deficiencies and rectifying them. Though rectification is not a direct subject of our study, what really enables constant tracking down and almost ‘real time’ improvement of corporate communication system is developed communication diagrams plus benchmark and measurement systems which help to spot digressions from company’s plans as they (digressions) occur.
In gathering the data, I believe I can establish such effective communication program that will solve communication and service gaps always in existence within the company. This will eventually result in the service programs by department of tools to effectively assist new franchise offices in their immediate and long-term success.
CHAPTER 2: THE LITERATURE REVIEW
Literature review section was designed to meet the following goals:
1) Propose general communication perspective through reviewing of relevant theories while making special emphasis on the discourse ‘tangent’ to our current research problem, ie ‘establishing cost-effective corporate communication within RIS’
2) Critically review actual communication techniques currently employed within industry of interest
3) Critically review communication strategy building theories and pinpoint approaches instrumental in developing methodology setting of the study.
I will begin by discussing communication in the broad sense and then go into detail about communication methods specific to this research study.
Corporate communication and the quest for efficiency.
The literature review below is divided up into two categories. These are effective business communication in the general sense and communication in decentralized companies. These discussions will focus on primary research gathered from internal questionnaires and existing research and literature written on communication.
As one communications expert noted, “Without communication, not even the first steps can be taken toward human cooperation, and it is impossible to speak about organizational problems without speaking about communication, or at least taking it for granted” (Simon, Smithburg & Thompson, 1950, p. 218).
In examining a comprehensive communication flow chart, put together by authors Level & Galle (Level & Galle, p. 12), there are two variables applicable to the communication process. These variables are described as external and internal variables. External variables are the aspects of communication that flow from the communicator to the person they are trying to communicate to. This can also be described as the stimulus process. This is the process that occurs by the person that’s being communicated to. During the stimulus process several things occur. First the individual, or group in some cases, must be paying attention to the communicator. This causes stimulation to occur, followed by a transfer of words and then a process or fitting, which is also known as filtering. All of this leads to a response.
The other variable in the communication process is described as an internal variable. These are the components of individual with whom someone is trying to communicate to. Aspects of internal variables include needs, knowledge, attitudes, values, and expectations. For example it would probably not be successful to try and communicate to a group of stockbrokers who are expecting a seminar of trading with a clown. Likewise communication might not be very effective if you asked a stockbroker to explain what he does to a group of kindergarteners. You see, these would not take into consideration the needs, knowledge, attitudes, values, or expectations of the individuals. Remember, these were the internal variables in our communication model. All of which should be acknowledged for “effective” communication, describes Level &Galle.
We must also recognize some barriers that communicators might face. Aside from the obvious, language, verbal tone, body gestures, etc – there are some that might not be so clear. Sherman, Bohlander, and Snell write: “The effective communicator must also recognize the role that assumptions play in communications” (Sherman, Bohlander, and Snell, p. 538). Minimizing assumptions can help steer away from ineffective communication. “One method used to minimize the problems of false assumptions is to separate facts from inferences. A fact is a verifiable statement to which many people can agree. An inference is a conclusion that is based on fact but depends on the assumptions that are made” (Sherman, Bohlander, and Snell, 1996).
Barriers to effective communication spring up just about everywhere in day-to-day life, but they can often be most apparent in the work environment. In the past, a major barrier to communication may have been the distance separating one business location from another, but in the modern world of the Internet and satellite communications, there are still many other barriers which get in the way of effective communication in the workplace. A barrier is anything that gets in the way of the purpose of the organization, or causes people to misunderstand each other. Since communication is a key to just about every aspect of every organization, it is an important and valuable tool for every person in the organization, and if used effectively, it can add to the success and value of the organization for everyone involved.
One major barrier to communication in the workplace is language or semantics itself. Not everyone understands the same language – and that does not mean only those who speak a language other than the native language of the business location. Foreign languages may be a barrier to communication in the organization, but even if all the employees speak the same language, they may be staggered on different levels of the communication ladder. For example, employees who work in the Information Technology department may seem to be speaking an entirely different language to employees who do not understand the jargon of computer terms many IT professionals seem to constantly use. Many scientists and engineers also tend to use highly technical terms, which others may not understand, and there is a general tendency in our society to use jargon and slang in everyday speech – even in advertising and media – that everyone may not commonly understand. In fact, many communications specialists specialize in teaching technology and scientific professionals how to communicate effectively.
The importance and necessity of sharing technical information with non-technical people and helping them to clearly understand it is increasing at an almost incomprehensible rate. Frustrations run high for both the person trying to deliver the message and the non-technical people receiving it who are trying to make sense out of information they do not understand (Chambers, 2000, p. 119).
This inability to communicate in simple language that everyone understands can be a barrier to effective communication if it is used when it is inappropriate. For example, scientists might use technical jargon among themselves, but if they are discussing their findings in a press release, or in a general meeting, they might want to use simpler language to explain their findings, so the general population understands their work, and their purpose. If no one understands how useful your products or your findings are, how will those products survive in the marketplace?
Another barrier to effective communications is “self-protection.” Often, one employee withholds communication to another in the workplace in a kind of self-preservation mode. Lack of trust may be one reason the employee does not communicate.
As one expert noted, information that will evoke a favorable reaction will be played up; the mistakes and the fumbles tend to be glossed over.
Information going downward is equally suspect. A casual reading of any house organ will reveal how carefully the higher executives and their actions are “explained” to employees in a way that will show the wisdom of their decisions and their benevolence toward those who occupy the lower levels. In part, this deception is conscious. In part, it is unconscious. These upward and downward distortions make an actual and objective view of the organization difficult to obtain (Simon, Smithburg & Thompson, 1950, p. 240). Thus, self-protection can lead to a lack of communication, and in addition, it can lead to many more problems if the practice continues. Self-preservation is probably one of the most compelling reasons communication breaks down in the workplace, and one of the most compelling reasons to create a workplace where trust and mutual understanding reduces the need for self-preservation.
Another major barrier to communications can be apathy, a lack of empathy, or a lack of training in the communication process. This barrier can take many forms, as one communications professional observed, the communication barrier of apathy is experienced when the communicator fails to be empathic with the receiver. For the image that exists in the sender’s mind to be successfully reproduced in the listener’s mind, both parties must be on the same emotional level. For example, if the manager is excited about a new product being developed, he or she cannot instill the same enthusiasm to a subordinate if that person is quite momentarily depressed about losing a major contract (Anthony, Maddox & Wheatley, 1988, p. 126).
In the same vein, a manager who has never been trained in the art of communication, due to apathy on their part, or the part of the company, also has a major barrier to effective communication. If the company regularly promotes people to management who are good employees, but have never had any management training, they may be creating an environment of apathy and lack of empathy, which leads to ineffective communication and other management techniques. For example, a student intern in technology is eventually hired for a full-time position in a company, and eventually moves into a supervisory role over other technology employees, but the supervisor has never been trained in management or communication techniques. They are excellent in computer technology and troubleshooting, but once they move into this management position, they must communication much more often with their employees, and other mangers in the company. Unfortunately, they have little understanding or empathy for others, and cannot put themselves in the other’s place, and so they continually offend, put off, and generally annoy many of the people they come in contact with on a daily basis. Eventually, they either move out of management because of their ineffectiveness, or even fired because their department is no longer as productive as it once was. This lack of training is often overlooked as unnecessary, but it can affect the manager and their employees in a variety of negative ways. If employees continually are misunderstood or ignored, they will probably leave the company, or transfer to another department. This is quite costly in terms of training, retraining, and hiring, and can eventually affect every facet of the company. Apathy and lack of training are common barriers to effective communications, but with training and attention, they can be overcome.
How communication is received can also be a barrier to effective communication. As one authority noted, “The communication barrier of perception results from differing values, affinities, and aversions that we all have. It can also result from cultural and societal differences. We see and hear the same thing differently because of these differences” (Anthony, Maddox & Wheatley, 1988, p. 127). Perception can be based on anything from a difference in ages to a difference in cultures. For example, how acid rain is viewed can certainly vary in different areas of the country, and in different situations. “Acid rain may be considered a menace to the environmentalist who is concerned about our country’s wildlife. To the coal miner in West Virginia, it is only another reason for those bleeding heart liberals to try and eliminate his job” (Anthony, Maddox & Wheatley, 1988, p. 128).
Perception can also be based on preconceived notions the manager, employee, or client has about who they are dealing with. As one communications expert blatantly pointed out, you may also have preconceptions. You may have a negative perception of non-technical people as incapable of absorbing important information. You may resent having to spoon-feed your information to others and may even be reluctant to extend yourself to implement effective communication techniques (Chambers, 2000, p. 119).
Using empathy and understanding what perception barriers may arise is another way to break down this barrier to effective communication. In the era of the communications revolution any corporation that does not concentrate on the process of communication either internally and externally will not succeed or be known as progressive in the field of business. As globalization takes over the world ideology businesses have had to reengineer each aspect of their departments in order to incorporate the new paradigm’s of management. Diversity, human resource, and corporate change are the key terms that allow the corporation to evolve. In such an environment it is essential for firms to create a strategic policy that takes into account each aspect of the firm and allows for the most effective communication to take place. Communication skills are critical to effective job performance, career advancement, and organizational success.
While it is important to understand the communication process, it is equally important to understand what it means to communicate effectively and efficiently. Hargreaves describes this aspect by stating, (Hargreaves, 1977) “Good communication leads to intelligent participation and this, in turn, is the corner-stone for greater efficiency” (Ibid., p. 4).
According to Level and Galle, in their book, “Business Communications Theory and Practice, there are several requirements for effective business communication. They write, “If managers are to be effective, there must be accurate, timely, uninterrupted, and unbiased flow of information up, down, and across the organizational structure. This requires many things, most importantly of which is a communication philosophy. This philosophy must be accompanied by effective policy and organizational personnel who understand the communication process, the available channels and media, and their use” (page 7). Based on this information we may distinguish several aspects which are primarily in charge of effectiveness of communication. The first aspect to their point is that effective communication must be accurate. The term accurate is defined, according to Webster’s dictionary as being “free from error; conforming to truth”.
The second aspect of effective communication is to be timely. This is defined as “occurring in a suitable time; opportune”.
The next aspect of effective communication is that it is uninterrupted. The term uninterrupted means to avoid a break in the “continuity or uniformity of a course or process (Ibid., page 706).”
Putting these aspects together and specifying each one should greater define and examine what communication is in the broad sense. The analysis will narrow the field of effective business communication down by examining each aspect and then narrowing it down to discuss the specifics of decentralized companies.
Effective communication involves using a wide range of skills, which like most other skills requires constant work and improvement. Communication skills incorporate a variety of techniques of written, oral and non-verbal forms and cover a range of areas, such as providing information, giving advice, resolving conflict, writing reports and letters, meetings and giving seminars. The importance of the communication skills is necessary for each of us to overcome difficult situations and improve our daily affairs and interactions with people, so that we are able to do best at our working environment.
This research proposal is set forth for the purpose of solving some common communication problems within a virtual company, Help-U-Sell.
Help-U-Sell is currently, and would like to continue to be, the nations leading fee-for-service real estate franchise. To do this, we must be better able to evaluate new franchisees, helping them succeed quicker and more effectively. The objective is to create an effective method of staff communication and further direct our franchisees to operate a successful business. This proposal will help staff scattered throughout the country communicate at a more in-depth and successful level. One of several ultimate products of this proposal will be the company’s ability to assist new franchisees in opening quickly and operating more efficiently. Thus, in turn, generating increasing revenue to the corporate office. As the number of individual office sales rise, corporate workload increases. These are more offices that need business development attention and training, as well as, increased compliance concerns and general administrative paperwork.
Corporate staff currently lacks a formal communication process. This means there is currently not an effective avenue for staff to staff communication, department to staff communication, regional to staff communication and department to regional communication. While communication does take place, it is done, irregularly and sporadically. One example of the current communication efforts consist of person to person direct contact via the telephone. These contacts are done individually, at every level of the organization, have no record or follow-up, and are done independently of other related departments. For example a regional director may have a concern about something that may relate to two or more corporate employees or departments, however the call other individual or department is not aware the issue or concern even exists since the call was never recorded and the other party was not informed. Issues such as this are commonplace and can cause major discontent amongst the various levels of the organization.
Another example of the current communication methods would be the use of email. Email can be an effective tool, however much like the individual telephone conversations one or more related party may be left out of an important decision, or situation that they should be involved with. Current communication efforts have no accountability and follow-up built in. It is the goal of this proposal to change this problem
Based on staff dialogue and basic business principles, a significant underlying assumption is made in this proposal. That assumption is that communication is a problem. This assumption will be validated through specific staff questionnaires and personal communication experience. Examples of where a lack in staff communication grossly failed will be used to validate this assumption.
Significance of the Study
Current and future perspectives of communication.
This study will be conducted to assist and change current inadequate communication at the corporate level within the organization. It will help drive and maintain the company’s current number one position in the market. It is important because ineffective communication can stifle the company’s growth and cause turmoil amongst regional, departmental, and corporate staff. According to Cummins and Warren, “Misunderstanding can block the development of a relationship and create tension in an otherwise positive relationship”( Cummins and Warren, p. 236). Changing the current state of communication will better not only the organization as a whole, but ease the workload per department by streamlining some of the current “busy work”. Basically, we will eliminate duplicated work efforts at the regional and departmental levels, thus easing up corporate staff responsibilities. Communication is a vital part of modern day business, and especially true in today’s competitive market. Poor communication is directly related to poor management decisions. Level and Galle state, (Level and Galle, 980) “In fact, experts have estimated that as much as 80 percent of poor management decisions result from ineffective communication” (Ibid., p. 6).
Communication skills in the workplace help to enhance the interpersonal communication, giving and receiving criticism, dealing with different personalities and behavior types and understanding the message and different channels its coming through. To a very great extent the quality of our lives depend on the quality of our communication. With good communication skills we able to be more successful, but if we are unable to communicate ourselves effectively it can lead to a variety of interpretations and can work against our goal. Often we respond to a situation in a passive or aggressive manner, which conveys negative sign’s to the interpreter and works against our benefit. In a work environment where there are passive and aggressive modes of communication, it becomes very difficult to convey the intended meaning.
An understanding of the communication process allows managers to implement better policies and creates a more harmonious work environment. In a work environment where diversity is the key to the employee’s communication takes on an added dimension. Cultural barriers, gender interaction and inter-departmental associations are creating a conflict in the environment that managers are struggling to overcome. The result of the changing business environment is failed businesses and a specialized field emergence.
When communication isn’t managed strategically, employees receive conflicting messages. Because the “say” communication and the “do” communication conflicts, employees work at odds with their colleagues and the result of the inconsistent messages from the resource allocation system thus, alter the firm credibility.
Corporations began downsizing as organizational communication functions slashed bodies and cut costs. It left fewer people and smaller budgets to do the same work that was performed pre-downsizing. But, rarely did it address the work’s appropriateness. Nor did it help the communication function address its future role in a changing organization.
Today, technology, increased competition and the emerging partnership between the organization and its members are of core importance. Increased competition forced us to look for ways to do everything exponentially better, faster and at less cost. It’s caused us to challenge all the rules, processes, policies, programs and structures. Self- direction, virtual offices, intertwined organizational structures and telecommuting required us to adopt more efficient and effective ways of moving information among people who need it to improve business performance. Communication in its broadest form represents a critical enabler that can engage people and unlock the discretionary effort needed to win. The information technology revolution always aims to create the most reliable media that enables fast and safe communication process. Speed, quality and cost are the basic requirement for current information system demands. In prior time people only relied on traditional wire, fax machine, telephone and even snail mail to send messages and data to their network. They were unreliable for so many reasons such as the originality of the information, the tardiness from the transportation delay, and the cost it might take for long distance connection.
The World Wide Web made it possible to organize millions bytes of information in the network. This is a huge turning point in every aspect of human life since the media enables people to read what happens somewhere thousand miles away just few minutes after the news gets through the wire. The launch of commercial internet system enables companies to control a business overseas from a single site.
With the convenience of the technology, thousands of internet users grow everyday. Posting messages is just as easy as clicking the mouse; nobody has a trouble about it.
Economic and organization pressures, such as increased local and global competition, have fueled the need to find better and more efficient ways of doing business. Video conferencing seeks to provides a human face to the technological world in which we live and work. It has been available for many years, but until recently, cost has limited its widespread use. “Video conferencing is the combination of dedicated audio, video, and communications networking technology for real-time interaction (Multimedia Telecommunications FAQ).” The need for organizations to achieve increased quality, better customer service, lower costs, greater employee autonomy, and a more flexible, responsive organization requires the integration of video conferencing with collaboration and groupware technologies. This causes the decision process to be faster, implying better and rapid information dissemination and sharing. There is often a need for meetings, involving many departments and multidisciplinary decision-makers that are geographically dispersed.
Numerous benefits to both businesses and consumers are provided by video conferencing. For example, video conferencing reduces travel expenses, reduces the distance between separated families, improves working relationships, and improves remote job interviews processes. Video conferencing is also proving an invaluable tool in industries, such as the legal, medicinal, and educational fields. However, there are some problems popping up with this new technology. Some challenges to the emerging video conferencing industry include bandwidth limitations, picture quality degradation due to compression and decompression, and the level of preparation for presentations at meetings.
When video conferencing started in 1982 a room system cost about $1,000,000.00 to install and it cost about $1,000 (or more) per hour to use it. Rooms were all made up of discrete components like switchers, cameras, camera power supplies, push button control panels, rear projection televisions and incoming & outgoing 768Kbs modems. All transmission was via satellite so companies also needed a 3 to 5 meter dish on the roof to get the signal up & down. You also had to coordinate all conferences through a national center to book the time on the available satellite bandwidth.. It was much more elegant than it is today and it was still cheaper than flying an executive to a distant city for a two hour meeting. A lot has changed since then. Room systems are mounted on carts and can be wheeled from room to room. Systems costing $50,000 or less have more functionality than the systems mentioned above. Transmission costs can be as low as $0.16 a minute (128K). If you transmit at 768Kbs now, it is nearly broadcast quality and the delay is substantially less than when satellite was the only viable option. Systems are now based on PC’s and can be hooked to the LAN/WAN as well as use its bandwidth for either the conference itself or to enhance the meeting by allowing users to give PowerPoint. Additionally, with the rise of T.120, data sharing and collaboration are also possible.
Video conferencing was first introduced using a video conferencing suite, which bundled hardware and software. These systems were designed to link conference rooms and they used a centralized area from which video conferencing took place. Next came mobile or portable units, which allowed a more flexible application within an organization. At this point, the technology was more of a luxury than a valuable tool, and thus used primarily by the upper level management. “Back in the 80’s video conferencing was seen as a way to reduce executive travel costs. In the early 90’s it got cheaper and the systems got better, so the technology became more widespread (A Brief History of Video Conferencing).”
There are two types of video conferencing systems. Room based systems allow groups of people in a room setting to communicate with other groups of people. There is also desktop video conferencing, which combines personal computing with audio, video, and communications technologies to provide real-time interaction from a typical personal computer. Video conferencing is a term that broadly defines a multitude of services, from basic video phone and video e-mail services to multiunit video conferencing networks. The benefits to businesses are innumerable:
Gives professionals more time
Reduces travel expenses
Improves remote job interviews processes
Benefits regular meetings
Allows simultaneous input or opinions of a number of people on a particular issue
Companies can remain competitive by utilizing professionals regardless of physical location
Promotes a paperless office: collaboration on documents through conferencing reduces the need and costs for printing, faxing, and mailing
Consultants extend their business to distant cities
Encourage colleagues to work together more often
Video conferencing can also enable divorced parents in other cities to see and talk to their children, reducing the pain of separation. This scenario also applies to people who live far from their families.
Video conferencing is becoming an avid part in many professions. Distance learning programs allow video conferencing to be used to see guest speakers, prevent sick students from missing anything in class, and conserve faculty resources. Judges can arraign prisoners in other cities. Depositions can be given through video conferencing, limiting expenses for out of town depositions. Video conferencing allows hospitals and doctors to confer on patient x-rays and diagnosis, allows specialists to confer with other doctors, which reduces costs by eliminating travel.
Data compression, the process of reducing the size of information to be transmitted, results in a loss of the quality of the final picture. Data needs to be compressed before being sent through video conferencing. Bandwidth, or the speed which information flows, is one of today’s major limitations in communication, as it cannot be exceeded. Another big barrier to video conferencing is the difficulty in establishing connections between multi- vendor conferencing systems. Packet switched systems are becoming more popular in video conferencing, although there is a risk of losing audio or video data or having it get out of sequence.
Video conferencing also necessitates additional training for staff in the use, preparations, and benefits of the system. Background noises often disrupt video conferencing. There is an increased level of preparation necessary with video conferencing, as presentations must be rehearsed with the equipment and structured in greater depth. When used as a teaching/training aid, motions of the teacher can cause poor picture quality. Delays may arise while linking audio and video.
As mentioned earlier, bandwidth is the speed with which information flows. It is considered the speed limit for communication transmissions, and cannot be exceeded. Bandwidth of current mainstream technologies is one of today’s major limitations on communication. To solve the issue of bandwidth limitations, special networks capable of higher bandwidth have been adopted. The main drawback of this approach is the higher cost of deploying the networks and the rewiring that will be required for existing LAN infrastructures. One example of such a network is ISO-Ethernet, which is a packet switched network.
Another solution involves compression and decompression. Data compression is the process of reducing the size of the information to be transmitted. Mathematical algorithms are used to estimate the best way to discard part of the video information and still be able to reconstruct a major part of the information at the receiving end. It can be compressed through a Lossless Compression scheme, which means 100% of the data is received and available after de-compression, or Lossy Compression Technique, which does not retain 100% of the data. The process always involves the loss of the quality of the final picture, however.
“Frame relay and reflector technology are two methods being implemented to provide video conferencing connections and limit or manipulate data transfers without losing the quality of the service (Draper).” The Frame Relay method of connecting and sending video signals is an example of Wide Area Networking (WAN). Reflector technology allows CU-SeeME (designed to use algorithms that are read through a software package) to send one signal to everyone that a user can obtain via a password, which limits the bandwidth need for multi-casting. The primary advantage of Reflector technology is that it provides bandwidth management.
There are many compression algorithms, along with an international standard called H.261 for data compression. This standard involves a lot of computation, and therefore, it requires special purpose hardware. The most promising solution is the frame relay and reflector technology, which have been developed most recently. There aren’t any real drawbacks to this approach, but it is not as of yet widely used. Compression techniques still need to be improved to prevent loss of picture quality. The future of video conferencing will be determined by the techniques used to break the barriers to delivering high quality/low cost video conferencing products.
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY of the research
In order to develop and establish cost-effective corporate communication within RIS current communication problems should be:
Naturally, each of the research objectives either as they are interpreted in general here or as they are stated in Research objectives sections needs to be met. It is to secure the most beneficial approach that we introduce particular methodological apparatus. The success of our research greatly depends on methodology being appropriate to the objectives elected. To this end author proposes to address twofold objective as constituent of more general comprehensive research of the best communication strategy of RIS. Acknowledging that such formulation of research objective which in fact put its current and urgent component in dependence of more strategic and somewhat abstract vision may obstruct practical ‘cutting author nevertheless insist on introducing some general strategic vision. It is indeed hard to create a new plan without knowing what the problems are with current one. It is even more harder to identify what are the current problems without knowing what are the efficiency requirements that has to be met. To develop those requirement the company needs to diagram the path of major messages and media from idea to sale. This will constitute a chain of messages and media that can result in economic transactions and measurable increases in wealth. Measurable increases in wealth are to be cornerstone of communication efficiency requirements since it is through weighing communication expenses against measurable increases in wealth which are traceable to those expenses that the first part of requirements development may occur.
The second part of efficiency requirement development might be labelled as area/activity-related efficiency requirements. While company wide communication diagramme might include basic communiction chain, objective communicative requiremnts on each of the stages (what needs to be informed to counterpart and what needs to be done by him) and measures of control and management in the communication chain ( with defining of symbolic roles of conductors, bulbs, buffers, controlllers, etc) unit/area/ activity-related communication chains are intended to develop it in detail. Departmental diagrams should fit together in an expanded chain of communication linking every part of the company to its core internal and external audiences. If market research department is taken as example, communication structure of it shows inputs, the department communication process and targets. It also defines key messages, desired results and measures of success.
Here may arise a question of indispensability of precise measurement. Innocent at the first glance it might put the whole idea of communication strategy at jeopardy. As we stated in our Assumption two no efficiency-based objective might emerge if precise measurement/benchmark system was never introduced. One may argue that managerial staff might develop objective efficiency requirements on the basis of previous practice and experience or espouse legitimate and reasonable expectations of communication-related performance. Without derogating the role of experience and ‘eye for’ good communication, such efficiency requirements often are experience-biased or subject-biased. While providing certain insight into communication mean and communication effect relations on the basis of practical knowledge, the argued approach imparts no clear evidences of causal effect (causality).
It is on unit level of communication hierarchy that actual cost effectiveness might be appreciated. Managers and employees should define the measurable impact on individuals upstream and downstream from the department and on the department itself. This forces a justification of messages and media and helps get rid of ineffective communication.
The perspective of arriving at collaborative decision as regards actual communication means, media and their potential efficiency is thought to be a mark of that unit/activity-related stage. Prior to developing departmental communication diagram relevant audiences has to be interviewed for an opinion on general issues related to communication. Specifically defined profile of each of the departments will warrant results of loosely formulated opinion survey being up-to-the-point and having considerable degree of ‘response bias’ free and frank opinions. I pay special attention to this survey (in form of questionnaires) since it secures audiences’ participation on primarily stage of departmental diagram development. Subsequently, participants to relevant audiences will have a chance to get to know which of their opinions were reflected in the final draft of departmental diagram and how through departmental diagram they (opinion) were integrated into overall communication strategy. Upon development of communication chain on top-management level and subsequent development of expanded chains which will incorporate the results of departmental research activity it will be crucial that those who participated in surveys find their input somehow reflected in the communication strategy. This not only has great productivity importance (since actual participants of communication may render useful advises on optimizing trivial thing which at the end of the day when properly structured may constitute an ‘empirical core’ of the communication strategy), in fact this have great identity and adherence–related prominence. It will be a great deal easier for employees to identify themselves and adhere to that corporate communication schemes which were developed with their direct participation.
Clearly, it is development of corporate messages that badly needs audiences’ participation while in technical aspects of communications ie media might be well left without close participation.
What unites the first and the second parts of efficiency requirement development is that they both are varifiable against the environment. Upon understanding the environment, managers should test their understanding of strategy. One way to do this is for senior managers to write their versions of the company’s strategic message without looking it up and then to ask a random selection of employees to write their versions, again without looking it up. By comparing responses, managers can learn quickly how well the strategy is understood. This exercise can also be used to track the effectiveness of internal communication over time. The strategic message should be linked directly to departmental communication diagrams. It is here where identification and understanding goes hand by hand: if employee/member of audience identify himself with, say, corporate message it will be easier for him to receive, understand and transmit that message further which might have indispensable value for effective corporate communication. To this end I designed set of questionnaires to take cut of audiences’ opinions. This allows me to both elucidate some (not all) of the existing communication problems as perceived by audience. The level of looseness and particular construction of the content will allow us to arrive at minimum response-bias level.
The third part of efficiency requirement development is:
1) checking of assumption from which managers proceeded and on which many messages are built and
2) identifying of core individuals to communication process and checking their actual role proceeding from efficiency demands.
Assumption checking may sound redundant, but the managers will undertake a final check. This might be done through having impartial outsiders review the fact summary, such as consultants and the board of directors, or through debating the fact summary’s contents. In a debate, one team presents arguments supporting the accuracy of the summary and the other team presents arguments against it. If appropriate, the fact summary should be revised. Assumption checking need not be continuous, but it should happen periodically, with the intervals depending on the rate of environmental change. Some industries might continue for several years with the same messages and media and others, only a few weeks or months.
Departments/units also should identify the internal and external individuals with direct economic power and/or liable to quantification formal/non-formal influence over:
1) the department’s mission and/or
2) the company’s survival and success and/or
3) development and functioning of subcultures within the company.
Moreover, they should list the verbal and non-verbal messages and media going to each and the measurable results expected from communicating.
It seems natural that the forth of elements to efficiency requirement development falls naturally from the analysis done so far. Structure and budgeting are final (in sequence) and conclusive (in proving of efficience) stages of strategy development process. In the end company should summarize both company-wide and departmental communication structure. These summaries may imitate the process flow with names of core individuals attached to aspects of the process. Managers and subordinates should be required to examine and explain how departments might work to communicate to customers and other key audiences more effectively if their structures changed. Comparing company-wide communication structure with department structures will make apparent variances needing review and revision. It will also raise questions about staffing, and especially the compatibility and skill of staff with the existing and desired structures.
Budgeting is dealt with last but it has really occurred throughout the exercise of strategy development, which requires managers to find more efficient and effective ways to communicate. If the exercises have been done properly, the final budget requests should reflect the action. items already identified. The cost and timing of implementation will be an issue because it is unlikely that a company can do everything it wants to do in one budget.
Upon arriving at the final stage of the procedure outlined we might find ourselves to fulfil the objective posed. Specifically, stage 1 and 2 deals with elucidating the communication problems through checking against environment and elaborating communication chains on corporate-departmental levels. Having adopted this general vision we might dedicate ourselves to critical issues within that strategic planning. Having agreed upon methodology and having assessed practical advantages of measurement development I without further reservations may proceed to practical proposal of my work. Taking into consideration Assumption 1 I consider it to be necessary that opinion survey will be held.
Specifically, the internal management proposal will consist primarily of staff questionnaires and supported existing research documentation. The questionnaires will be focused on determining what the current communication instruments (ie combination of message and its bearer) are more promising in the eyes of audience than another.
Additionally, questionnaire will be so designed as to invite fronting of new ideas and techniques on the part of participants to communication. This flexible structure will ensure minimum response-bias and will allow for broad interpretation of the ideas proposed during managerial meetings. Thereby, both elucidating and addressing of communication problems inherent with every company might be executed. Further, communication instruments will be break down into messages (with special regard to analyzing of their appealing/recruiting force) and media (with special regard to analyzing message-media match). Findings of the proposed survey will be reflected in a new communication plan which is to be developed within the company. The questionnaires will focus on a series of questions centered on addressing the four research objectives.
The first step that will take place would be the creation of an appropriate questionnaire. Once a questionnaire has been developed that will address the research objective, it must be reviewed and approved by a resident expert, in this case, Dr. Gary Barfoot. After the questionnaire has been approved, a letter will be drafted that explains in detail, the questionnaire (see exhibit B). This too will be approved by Dr. Barfoot.
Now that a questionnaire and letter have been prepared and approved, it is time to send the questionnaires out to the co-worker group. The co-worker group consists of 7 corporate staff, 4 department heads, and 6 regional directors. This group is the entire population. They represent 100% of the whole population. The questionnaires will be mailed via US Postal Service first class mail on July 26, 2004. Enclosed in each individual envelope will be the two page questionnaire, a cover letter explaining the questionnaire, and a first class stamped envelope with my personal return address label. I have asked that each questionnaire be returned to me by August 13, 2004.
Monday, August 16, 2004 the results will be tallied. The analysis will be subject to reviews by department, gender, region, and corporate staff verses regional. The purpose is to determine whether or not communication problems stem from the region, or the corporation. Additionally, this will determine whether the problem is at the departmental manager level or staff level.
Data will be ranked and scored via questionnaire by asking questions on a ranking scale to identify where communication lacks or is weak or nonexistent. Questions will be ranked on a scale of zero to four and the higher the score, the better each individual aspect of communication would rank. For example, one question in the study will ask the responder to rank on a scale of zero to four, four being a perfect score, how effective staff teleconferences are in debriefing staff of what is happening in each department. Another question might address staff teleconferences and convention for example.
The goal will be to ask for each method of communication currently in use, all of the primary message in use and communication goals. This should identify which communication methods are more effective than other. Analyzing of the structure, content, distribution, effect of the successful messages will contribute to better understanding of corporate communication in whole. Additionally, this should identify what individuals within the corporation are being communicated to more frequently and who is being communicated to relatively infrequently.
Once all the returned results are analyzed, a summary will be written and the results will be presented to either prove or disprove whether or not there exists a problem and if such problems exists (assumption 1) are worth of consideration their particular nature will also be analyzed with regard to survey.
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Please check the appropriate line.
1. Gender: Male __ Female __
2. Are you a Corporate employee __ or Regional Director __
3. If you checked that you are a corporate employee what office do you work out of? New York __ Colorado __ California __
Frequency of Communication
Using the chart below, how frequently do you communicate with each of these groups using the following communication channels?
Indicate frequency using this scale:
0=Never 1=Infrequently 2=Monthly 3=Weekly 4=Daily
Face to Face
Effectiveness of Communication
Using the chart below, evaluate what messages (name in written on the separate paper) rule/define your communication style when dealing with each of these groups using the type of communication outlined below.
Use this scale:
0=No communication 1=Inadequate 2=Adequate 3=Good 4=Highly Effective
Face to Face
Employee Questionnaire Letter
Your assistance would be greatly appreciated in completing the following questionnaire. The questionnaire is part of a project I am working on that, upon completion, will fulfill the requirements for my Masters in Business Administration. The questionnaire is self explanatory. I would appreciate your responses by August 13, 2004. I have enclosed a self addressed stamped envelope for your convenience.
I recognize that some of your responses might be perceived negatively or taken out of context if viewed by the wrong individual. For that reason, you have my utmost assurance that your responses will be kept in the strictest of confidentiality. To assure this I have taken measures to code each individual questionnaire. I will have a master code sheet that only I will have access to; additionally it will be destroyed along with your response, upon the tallying of all responses. The responses will come directly back to my personal residence, to assure that I will be the only person who has access to them.
Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Please feel free to call me should you have any questions or need any assistance.