Thought Starters

QOTW 2013: Week 30: Do you really need a reason for telling me what to do?

Are you telling me your story for a reason? Before you go on, are you sure I need to know?

Does anyone remember the game broken telephone?

I had a chance to be part of a controlled experiment on communications that used the game of broken telephone to demonstrate how we interpret and communicate information. The message passed through about a dozen people and the result was impressive.

The core message was fundamentally different from its inception.

Fundamentally different.

I rarely bring my place of employment into this forum but this week seemed appropriate. You see, I was lucky enough to be invited into a focus group centered on communications. Now, my wife would snort something out her nose she’d be laughing so hard knowing that I was selected and a worthy participant of a communications focus group.

Believe it or not as an Interior Design professional I am a pretty effective communicator (or so I seem to think).

Let’s back up a second.

DIALOG is the architecture and design firm where I am employed. It is the culmination of several firms with a long history of design in Canada and across the country, however, that’s not as relevant as the name chosen to represent the firm; its brand, per se. DIALOG is inherently about communication and you would think that a firm so aptly named would be killer at communicating.

Well, all in all, we do a pretty good job.

The interesting thing, however, is the focus group. It was formed on the heels of feedback from our yearly companywide employee survey. The survey is designed to elicit feedback on the firm’s processes, procedures and engagement with and involvement of its employee base.

The focus group was certainly an interesting opportunity to be part of. The broken telephone experience alone made it for me.

Without getting too granular, a good cross section of employees had an opportunity to discuss the topics from the survey that were identified as needing the most attention. The sessions proved interesting and brought forth some real, tangible opportunities to help communicate information more effectively in our fast paced environment. The fact that the firm is interested in continuous improvement is in itself an important factor to improved communication.

The primary line of business that I am responsible to manage dictates that my team are extremely effective communicators. We manage a national contract that has many moving parts and to remain effective, profitable and most importantly maintain a productive partnership with our client excellent communication is a must.


We are not alone.

Good verbal, written and non-verbal communication is inherent in our business; however, our communication task force exposed something interesting to me. Regardless of the effective nature of communication skills something fundamental was missing.

It boiled down to knowing why.

Why are we doing something?

This was a consistent theme that recurred regardless of the topic of discussion.


If our communication skills are sound is the resolution as simple as knowing why?

As an Interior Design management professional the “why” normally comes from me. I also know to ask the questions in order to understand the reason for decisions that affect my line of business. The real question is how much more is beneficial to me to remain effective?

Do I need to know everything?

Take that notion and trickle it down an organization.

What I took away from the focus group was an improvement opportunity that opens the door to my team to know even more about the work that they do.

If they choose.

We have always had an open communication style. If someone wants to know the reason for a decision regardless of its management level the opportunity has always been there to ask. What I feel needs to change is the reinforcement, on an individual basis, that it’s ok to ask.

Is it ok to ask in your organization?

That brings us to today’s quote.

You would never in a million years expect the following quote to come from The Fonz. Arthur Fonzarelli is the last guy I think of when I think about good communication – ayyyyyy…..but holy smokes, I had no idea that Mr. Winkler has written over 30 books many of which are a series of children’s books about a character named Hank Zipser, the world’s greatest underachiever. Unbelievable. He’s come a long way since his Happy Days. I think Henry’s quote sums up this week’s thinking very neatly. Take it away Henry.




If that doesn’t brighten your day then maybe this will.


Have a great Monday and an awesome week.

If you want to read last week’s quote simply click here.






About this Author: Ralph Dopping (199 Posts)

A quirky sense-o-humour coupled with an indelible sense of stylish sarcasm makes it difficult to take the world too seriously doesn't it? My faves: fun, passion and hard work. I work here everyday:

Lori 1 Like

Hi Ralph! I used to love that game! We called it "telephone"! :-)

Communication is so important as your cartoon illustrates! Thanks for the weekly chuckle!


rdopping moderator

 @Lori Thanks Lori.  Glad to make someone laugh. That makes my day.


It Ima tellin' ya, ya need to know....

rdopping moderator 1 Like

Hey @bdorman264 if I understood ya I would listen to ya.


I say, "If you don't know the why, the how doesn't matter." Cheers! Kaarina

rdopping moderator

Hey @KDillabough I suppose that's the point. Even if I want you to take the trash out. :-)