Seed or Feed?

Boy, there’s a lot of information out there. Especially if you subscribe to life-long learning as we do. Right now, we’re pretty steep into learning about web3 concepts - the juicy ones like Play2Earn / Play2Own, Return on Metaverse Investment, Metahealth, Community, Co-Creation, Team Dynamics, and Social Norms with Self-Regulation. When feeling overwhelmed by the noise, we find it comforting to go back to the basics; Organizational Behavior and The Communication Model.

In the most basic form, the communication model is expressed by peer-to-peer communication in an A/B conversation. The critical interaction is encoding and decoding. (getting your point across) You’ll see in the diagram below this form of communication is linear from left to right - in a single direction. Noelle says hello to Simon. Noelle is talking (encoding) and Simon is listening (decoding).

Peer-to-Peer Communication
Peer-to-Peer Communication

Sometimes, what Noelle said and what Simon heard are different. (Got kids?) Perhaps Simon ‘tuned out’ some of what Noelle said - or maybe it was simply misunderstood. In fact, the message might have been doomed from the start - before the words were even formed - because of an existing difference between our two friends. When this happens, it’s called noise. There are a lot of differences IRL right now - those differences (or lack of understanding) sure make it hard to communicate. Here’s how noise looks in a simple P2P model:

P2P with Noise
P2P with Noise

If the message was unclear, or Simon didn’t decode it correctly, he might say, “Huh?” That’s the highly technical term for feedback. This is what that looks like with ‘huh?’ in it:

P2P Comm with Noise and Feedback
P2P Comm with Noise and Feedback

Boy is feedback important. It closes the loop and it provides optionality. If Noelle is informed that her message wasn’t properly received, she can choose to repeat herself or address the REASON for the breakdown and REFORMAT the signal. This is what people want. They want to be heard and if they’re not, they want the opportunity to reframe their message. The quicker we can recognize and fix broken feedback loops, the better our overall communication will be - leading to a happy couple like Noelle and Simon. Better feedback loops = better message velocity.

Organizational Communication
Organizational Communication

Organizational communication takes the same process and seeks feedback in similar ways.

Let’s say the PR team sends a company-wide email. Employees read it. If it’s clear and it leads to action - life is good. There may have been some noise in the channel, but the message got across. If the employees reply-all and ask questions or seek clarification - they’re engaging in feedback. If they take inappropriate action, the signal needs to be changed to clarify the parts that were not clearly received and understood. Sounds simple, right? If everyone is informed and knowledgeable, yes. If we’re not on the same page or don’t have the same level of understanding, we may need to consider different messages or additional channels. The mix of messages and channels is pretty much the crazy world we’re living in.

So seed or feed?

Some signals are designed to teach. Some signals are designed to inform. Some signals are designed to persuade. Some signals are designed to engage. So we have to ask ourselves if the message is a seed (for growth) or a feed (for information). Simply applying these two buckets to the communication model can help organize and prioritize all the signals. The buckets bifurcate the channel and isolate the noise so we can focus on one signal or the other. (sorry we don’t have a visual for this - but if you close your eyes real tight….)

Traditional organizational communication models might label the buckets as formal and informal communication channels and break them down as professional vs personal. In today’s work world - the line is blurred so we’ll just recognize them and move on.

So what?

We’re moving toward the information, experience, and emersion platforms. People are dead sick of the traditional communication channels and tone-deaf to brand messaging. They’ve read their last company-wide anything and want personalized, informed, and concise communication. Straight, to the point, and truthful. They want to be able to trust the message and see its origin. They want to make sure the message is honest and they will hold the sender accountable. We’re talking about maintaining the transparency of the message across its useful life. Cutting out the bullshit and keeping it real. We can do it. There’s never been a greater time to be an entrepreneur.

Thanks to Lumen for the images and Jason Rosewell for the picture.




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